Over 8 Million Koreans in Temporary Work

  • By Kim Jung-hoon, Kim Choong-ryung

    October 27, 2021 09:20

    The number of temporary workers in Korea has surpassed eight million as the wage gap between temporary and full-time workers widened to a new record.

    Lockdown reduced job opportunities, but the figures also point to a failure of government efforts to turn temporary workers into permanent staff.

    Statistics Korea said Tuesday that 8.07 million of the country's 21 million salaried workers were in temporary positions as of August of this year. Their number increased by 640,000 compared to last year and their proportion rose from 36.3 percent to 38.4 percent of all workers.

    High-school seniors look at a bulletin board at a job fair in Seoul on Tuesday. /Newsis

    In 2016, before President Moon Jae-in took office, there were only 6.48 million temporary workers, but now both the number and proportion of temporary workers have reached record highs.

    The number of full-time workers declined apace by 0.7 percent to 12.9 million, down for the third year running, while short-term public-sector jobs, mostly for elderly people and paid for with taxpayers' money, increased by a whopping 605,000 people this year.

    The wage gap between temporary and full-time workers continues to grow. A full-time worker earned W3.34 million a month on average from June to August this year, up a whopping 10.2 percent on-year, while temporary workers earned W1.77 million or up 5.8 percent. That resulted in a record income gap of W1.57 million (US$1=W1,168).

    Strict labor regulations make it difficult for employers to lay off unproductive workers, and employers have responded to the shortened working week of full-time staff by hiring temporary workers.

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