The Korea Herald


Korea’s youth labor participation ranks among OECD lowest

By Julie Kim Jackson

Published : Sept. 12, 2017 - 15:51

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The rate of labor force participation for young Koreans last year ranked near the bottom among developed nations, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on Tuesday.

Data from the OECD showed that the labor force participation rate for Koreans between the ages of 25 and 29 was 76.7 percent last year. The figure ties with Chile for the 31st spot among the OECD’s 35 members.

The OECD’s definition of labor force participation rate is calculated by dividing the labor force by the total working-age population, which refers to people aged 15 to 64 who are either employed or actively looking for employment.

(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

In comparison, the OECD average for youth labor participation last year was 80.5 percent. Switzerland came out on top at 90.9 percent, followed by Iceland’s 90 percent. Japan’s youth labor rate reached the No. 3 spot on the list at 88 percent, 11.3 percent higher than Korea.

The participation rate for Koreans in their early 30s totaled 77.7 percent, making it No. 32 among the 35 members. The figure is also 4.3 percent lower than the 82 percent OECD average for the category.

However, on the other side of the spectrum, the country’s senior citizens work force participation ranked among the OECD’s highest.

The labor force participation rate for Koreans aged 65 and older reached 31.5 percent last year, the second highest among all OECD members. Korea’s 31.5 percent elderly labor participation rate was more than double the 14.5 percent OECD average for the age group. Iceland topped the ranking at 40.6 percent.

According to data compiled by Statistics Korea, the country’s youth unemployment in July reached 9.3 percent. Also in July, the number of employees at some of the country’s largest firms hit a seven-year low in the second quarter of the year.

Government data showed that the number of employees at companies with workforces of more than 300 reached 2.46 million workers in the second quarter, a decrease of 25,000 compared to a year ago. The fall is the largest since the third quarter of 2010, when the number of employees at large companies plunged by 84,000 following the 2008 global financial crisis.

In contrast, more seniors found employment compared to young people in the second quarter of this year. Statistics Korea’s data showed that between April and June, 4.25 million people were aged 60 or older, compared to 4.03 million aged 15 to 29.

Experts attribute the lopsided hiring to the country’s low birthrate and the tightening youth job market amid continued sluggish economic performance.

By Julie Jackson (