South Korea's household income inequality hit a record high in the fourth quarter of 2018, government data showed Thursday, prompting officials to step up efforts to carry out a series of measures to support low-income people.
An average household earned 4.6 million won ($4,000) per month in the October-December period, up 3.6 percent from the previous year, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.
The monthly average income of the bottom 20 percent income bracket dropped 17.7 percent on-year to 1.23 million won due mainly to a sharp decline in the number of people employed and increased number of households with a head aged 70 years or older.
The number of jobless households accounted for 55.7 percent of the bottom 20 percent income bracket in the fourth quarter, compared with 43.6 percent from a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
The number of households with a head aged 70 years or older accounted for 42 percent of the bottom 20 percent income bracket in the fourth quarter, up from 37 percent from a year earlier.
In contrast, households in the upper 20 percent income range earned 9.32 million won during the fourth quarter, up 10.4 percent vis-a-vis the same three-month period in 2017.
Consequently, the country's distribution ratio for disposable income -- a key barometer of earnings equality -- reached 5.47, the highest level for any fourth quarter since such data began to be compiled in 2003.
Hong Nam-ki, the minister of economy and finance, met with relevant officials in Seoul to discuss measures to narrow the income gap.
As part of measures, the government said it will raise the basic pension for all people aged 65 or older in the bottom 20 percent income bracket by 20 percent to 300,000 won, beginning in April, according to the ministry. (Yonhap)