Gov't Employment Figures Mask Dire Reality

      April 11, 2019 13:32

      Statistics Korea on Wednesday said that 250,000 more people found jobs in March compared to the same period last year, marking two straight months of growth in excess of 200,000. But as in February, most of the job growth was due to 340,000 temporary menial positions the government created for senior citizens and 80,000 farming jobs.

      In reality 170,000 people lost their jobs last month, led by 250,000 people in their 30s and 40s, who form the backbone of the country's workforce, and 110,000 manufacturing jobs were cut. Employment among people in their 40s declined by 170,000, the steepest fall since the 1997 Asian financial crisis. The government's job-creation efforts focused on fake jobs for senior citizens paid for with taxpayers' money. The official figures are a chimera.

      The jobs created for senior citizens involved picking up litter and helping elementary schoolkids go to school and back in return for a couple of hundred thousand won a month for a few hours work every day. And the employment growth on farms was due to people who could find no work in the cities and ended up helping out on their families' farms. That cannot be considered quality work. If the fake jobs are excluded, employment has declined for 14 months running -- 18 months among people in their 30s and 40s and 41 months for people in their 40s alone. The real unemployment rate among young people stands at a record 25.1 percent.

      The government has become used to spending taxpayers' money to fiddle the figures because people are considered employed if they work more than one hour a week. It spent W120 billion in taxpayers' money paying people to turn off the lights in empty buildings and cleaning solar panels late last year (US$1=W1,140). And this year, it has earmarked W1.6 trillion on another 600,000 part-time jobs taking care of the elderly and disabled. By 2022, when Korea holds its next presidential election, that is to rise to 800,000. This is vote-buying pure and simple and on an industrial scale.

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