February 13, 2020 12:51
An increasing number of people are neither employed nor looking for work for no particular reason. The trend is seen in all age groups but particularly noticeable in the prime working age group of 40-somethings.
The number in the group increased by a whopping 25 percent to 255,000 in January compared to the same month last year, according to Statistics Korea on Wednesday. That is the highest since February 2013 (268,000), and has continued to grow more than 10 percent on-year since March last year.
People in the category are capable of working but remain economically inactive without typical reasons like childcare, studying or retirement, suggesting that they are likely to have given up looking for work altogether, with the result that the peak working demographic is being hollowed out.
Experts say many workers in their 40s who were laid off due to company closures or downsizing have given up their job search after repeated failed attempts.
The overall number of employed people increased by 568,000 on-year last month, which is on the surface the biggest growth since August 2014.
But in fact the number of workers over 60 rose by 570,000, mostly due to a stopgap job creation drive by the government and largely in menial part-time jobs.
At the same time the number of workers in their 40s, who are the backbone of the economy, dwindled by 84,000 over the same period.
"The jobs issue involving people in their 40s surfaced several years ago, but all that the government has done is to create jobs for senior citizens to make the numbers look good," said Shin Se-don at Sookmyung Women's University. "We need to create a sound environment for businesses to resolve this problem."
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