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(EDITORIAL from The Korea Herald on Sept.1)

All News 07:04 September 01, 2016

Budget focus
Job creation aim is welcome, but quality matters more

Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho has stressed that policymakers will put job creation on the front burner in managing the 2017 budget, which features a 10.7 percent growth in allocation for the job creation segment.

The budget for boosting employment is 17.5 trillion won ($15.6 billion), aimed at creating 240,000 jobs for young people next year, compared with 210,000 this year. The rise is noteworthy when the budget growth is compared by sector -- 6.9 percent increase for tourism, 6.1 percent for education and 4 percent for defense.

It is a praiseworthy policy of the Park Geun-hye administration for its last fiscal year. There is an urgent need to review whether it is keeping its previous promise of youth job creation amid the spiraling jobless rate among those in their 20s and early 30s.

For three years, the administration has repeatedly pledged to carry out full-fledged efforts to create as many jobs as possible by 2017. However, the intermediate result is frustrating young jobseekers as some statistical data indicate the government has been solely obsessed with the numerical figure, and seems to pay less attention to the quality of new jobs.

The wage gap between South Korean regular and nonregular workers is quite high compared to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development average. Nonregular job wages in Korea are less than 60 percent of wages for regular jobs, according to a report from the OECD. The gap is critical, especially when compared to Germany, which saw its respective ratio mark over 80 percent. The ratios reached 79 percent for Belgium, 74 percent for the United Kingdom and 67 percent for Greece.

Statistics Korea data showed that the monthly salary gap between the two categories widened to 1.24 million won last year, compared to 1.15 million won the previous year. The salary disparity was 990,000 won in 2009.

The wide wage disparity in Korea has continued to push the “quality of employment” issue, which includes weakness in job security. The factor has been further aggravated as more businesses increase the proportion of temporary jobs to cut labor costs.

While the government’s drive for active job creation is welcome, a profound review and detailed scheme are also necessary to resolve the growing dissatisfaction with the poor pay for contract workers.

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