Workers in Big Businesses Earn Twice as Much as in SMEs

  • By Ryu Jung

    July 21, 2016 12:04

    The wage gap between workers in major conglomerates and small and mid-sized companies has grown so much that the former earn almost twice as much as the latter.

    The wage gap stood at W31.81 million last year, up 7.6 percent compared to 2014 (US$1=W1,143). Regular staff at major conglomerates earned W65.44 million a year on average, while workers in SMEs earned only W33.63 million.

    The Federation of Korean Industries analyzed the payrolls of 14.68 million salaried workers and found that the average annual wage stood at W32.81 million last year, up 1.5 percent from 2014.

    But in big conglomerates wages rose 4.2 percent and in SMEs just 1.2 percent.

    "More workers in conglomerates remain employed longer due to greater job stability than in SMEs, so their pay levels keep going up, and strong unions in corporations also get steeper wage hikes," said Prof. Kim Sung-soo at Seoul National University.

    There has been a sharp increase in the number of workers who make more than W100 million a year. Last year 2.7 percent or 390,000 of salaried workers earned more than W100 million, up 11.6 percent compared to 2014.

    But the number of workers who make between W80 million and W100 million dwindled by 10,000 to account for 2.8 percent. Workers who earn between W60 million to W80 million multiplied by 70,000 to account for 6.5 percent. That means 12 percent of all salaried workers earn more than W60 million.

    But 75 percent of make less than W40 million. Some 38 percent earned between W20 million to W40 million last year, and 37 percent less than W20 million.

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