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Number of full-time workers shrinks amid prolonged pandemic

Jobseekers look at an employment information bulletin board at a job fair in eastern Seoul. (Yonhap)
Jobseekers look at an employment information bulletin board at a job fair in eastern Seoul. (Yonhap)



The employment rate of the nation’s full-time employees working 40 hours a week has remained in the 50 percent rage for two consecutive years, raising concerns over deteriorating labor market amid the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, a lawmaker said Monday. 

The “full-time equivalent” employment rate for 2021 posted 58.8 percent, nearly unchanged from 58.6 percent estimated a year earlier, according to Rep. Yoo Gyeong-joon of the main opposition People Power Party, citing his own analysis of Statistics Korea’s research on the economically active population. 

It marked the first time that the figure has plunged to the 50 percent level since 1981. Even during the global financial crisis in 2010, the FTE employment rate stood at the 60 percent level.

The FTE employment rate is an economic indicator used by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which measures the number of full time workers by counting a worker who spends 40 hours on the job per week as one employee. A person working 20 hours a week is therefore calculated as 0.5 of an employee, while those working 60 hours are considered 1.5.

Yoo attributed the sluggish growth in the number of full-time employees to a rise in temporary jobs created by the government. 

“The Moon Jae-in administration’s employment projects focused on making temporary jobs in the public sector through state-led programs, mostly for the elderly, neglected efforts to create quality jobs in the overall job market,” Yoo said. 

By Choi Jae-hee (cjh@heraldcorp.com)
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