The Korea Herald


S. Korean workers' income rises to $42,300 a year: OECD

Annual income grew more slowly than GDP, lawmaker points out

By Choi Jae-hee

Published : Oct. 11, 2020 - 14:51

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(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

South Korean full-time employees' average annual income reached $42,300 last year, placing the country 19th among 35 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, data showed Sunday. 

The figure was the highest ever for the nation’s fourth-largest economy. Korea’s next-highest average annual income was in 2003, when it posted $32,100 and ranked 24th, said Rep. Yang Kyung-sook of the ruling Democratic Party, citing the OECD data. 

The average annual income for Korea was 87 percent of the OECD average, which was estimated at $48,600 last year. 

Korea’s figure grew faster than the OECD average. Last year, the annual income of Koreans increased 3.6 percent on-year, landing the country in seventh place within the club of rich countries in terms of growth. The OECD average annual income grew 1.8 percent, excluding Colombia and Turkey.

The data indicated that Koreans earn more money than they did decades ago. But their income grew more slowly than the country’s gross domestic product -- the total value of goods and services produced within a country’s borders -- the ruling party lawmaker said. 

While last year’s average income reflected a $12,000 increase over the 2003 calculation, or 31.9 percent, the nation’s GDP per capita gained $17,009, or 115.9 percent, in the same time frame. Also, the local economy as measured by GDP took eighth place last year with $1.64 trillion, up two notches from 2003, when it was worth some $700 billion, she said. 

“The local economy fared relatively well in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, but concerns have mounted over salary cuts, delayed payment of wages and unemployment,” Yang said. “The government should ramp up policy efforts regarding workers’ labor conditions such as income or working hours in order to match the country’s high spots in the economic rankings.”

By Choi Jae-hee (