Artificial Jobs for Elderly 'Distort Employment Figures'

  • By Gwak Rae-geon

    August 17, 2021 08:31

    The National Assembly Research Service in a recent report slammed the government's job creation programs for the elderly for distorting employment figures.

    The report published on Aug. 2 was the first that openly criticized President Moon Jae-in's failed job creation policy in what may be a sign that his administration has entered its lame-duck phase.

    The jobs are mostly menial, from picking up leaves or telling people where to park their cars to making little video clips at home.

    The city of Daegu started a program for senior citizens last year that hires them to promote the city's job program for them on YouTube and blogs. They are paid up to W710,000 a month for five hours a day, three days a week (US$1=W1,166).

    One 70-year-old resident of Jongno district in Seoul is taking part in a program writing biographies for other elderly people. He is paid W270,000 a month for three hours a day two to three times a week.

    Statistics Korea data show that the employment rate last year was 60.1 percent, but when such sinecures for the elderly are removed, the figure falls to 58.4 percent.

    The NARS criticized the government because artificially created jobs for senior citizens have multiplied from 496,000 in 2017 to 769,000 last year, and the government wants to increase that to 785,000 this year.

    Lee Ji-man at Yonsei University said, "Money that should be spent on welfare is being used for job creation, so it has just become a way for the government to massage the poor employment figures." But these jobs distort employment figures because they are categorized as full-time employment although they are mostly part-time positions.

    The NARS did acknowledge the merits of the job creation program because it helps the elderly earn money and gets them out of the house. But it said there has been too much quantitative growth and not enough qualitative growth. "There are not enough staff to manage the program and too many sinecures, and some people just get paid without working or are taking jobs repeatedly and stealing opportunities from other senior citizens," it warned.

    In other words, the government has focused too much on creating as many jobs as possible instead of thinking about what kind of jobs elderly people really need.

    But the government thinks it's doing a fine job. An official at the Ministry of Health and Welfare said, "The government is trying whatever it can to create more jobs for the elderly as the number of senior citizens continues to grow and many are unprepared for retirement."

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