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Majority of Koreans pessimistic about job market this year: survey

More than half of South Koreans believe that the nation’s labor market will further deteriorate this year, compared with the conditions before the COVID-19 pandemic, a survey conducted by a think tank here showed Monday.

Some 77 percent of Koreans said in the survey commissioned by the Korea Economic Research Institute that the nation’s job market is likely to worsen compared with conditions in 2019. Of the 77 percent, 44.6 percent believe that the market will “extremely deteriorate” this year. The survey involved 1,000 adults aged 18 or above.

Only 8.3 percent expressed optimism, with most saying that the market will “slightly recover.”

Those in their 20s – who are considered the most active participants in job hunting – were the most pessimistic of all age groups. Roughly 83 percent said that the job market will worsen, with 53.2 percent of the 83 percent saying that it will “extremely deteriorate.”

None of the respondents in their 20s replied that the market will “recover noticeably.”

The prolonged COVID-19 pandemic was picked as No.1 factor behind the deteriorating labor market, with 45.3 percent of all respondents choosing the answer. Some 26.3 percent cited the government and the lawmakers’ toughened corporate regulations, while 10.7 percent pointed to the government’s pro-union laws. The lackluster corporate performance and the lack of new fast-growing industries were other reasons.

As countermeasures to such risks, 24.9 percent picked alleviation of business regulations, while 21.9 percent said adoption of more flexibility in the job market. Expansion of public hiring and government incentives to firms that hire more each earned a response of 15 percent, respectively.

For industries that are projected to create more jobs, 21.4 percent picked semiconductors, while 20.6 percent chose new industries including biohealth.

Meanwhile, for industries likely to shed more jobs, 22.5 percent picked accommodation and food services. Some 17 percent chose shipping and steelmaking and 14.5 percent said construction.

Hopes on receiving higher wage was also bleak, with 68.9 percent said their monthly wages won’t grow when indexed to inflation.

Some 32.9 percent chose stock and real estate investment as other means to increase their income, while 14.9 percent said they would focus on promotion within their companies. Some 9.1 percent said they would launch their own business while 7.8 percent said they would move to another company.

“Despite the mood of recovery from the pandemic, the pessimistic outlook indicates that COVID-19 has weakened our economy’s growth engine,” Choo Kwang-ho, the research head of KERI’s economy policy division said.
“The toughened regulations against businesses must be alleviated and the hurdles of the labor market must be lowered,” he added. 

By Jung Min-kyung (
catch table
Korea Herald daum