September 17, 2019 11:42
President Moon Jae-in on Monday claimed that the Korean economy "is headed in the right direction" despite record low growth figures and soaring unemployment.
The claim came in a meeting of senior economic officials at Cheong Wa Dae where the president stressed the positive effects of his much-derided "income-led growth" policy, citing August employment data and household spending trends in the second quarter released by Statistics Korea last week.
Moon was encouraged by improved employment figures in August when in fact they increased due to extremely low job numbers during the comparative months of 2018 and 2017.
"Employment is improving both qualitatively and quantitatively," he said. "Record employment levels have been reached, while unemployment is also at a record low."
"Youth employment has also increased markedly," he claimed.
But a closer look at the employment data shows that senior citizens account for 86 percent of new employment, mostly thanks to temporary public sinecures created with taxpayers' money.
Employment among people in their 30s declined by 9,000 in August and among those in their 40s by a whopping 127,000.
The 61.4-percent employment rate and three-percent unemployment rate Moon pointed to appear sound on the surface. But around 100,000 out of the 450,000 newly employed last month were beneficiaries of menial jobs created with taxpayers' money.
In contrast, manufacturing jobs declined by 24,000 while financial and insurance-sector jobs dropped by 45,000.
Despite the many policies like the drastic minimum-wage hike backfiring, Moon vowed to "more actively pursue" income-led growth. He said the fact that incomes among the bottom 20 percent have started to grow, although slightly, "is a significant sign that the government's efforts are paying off."
He did admit, however, that "more needs to be done" and vowed to "further strengthen policies aimed at boosting the earnings of low-income households."
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