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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Oct. 15)

Editorials from Korean Dailies 07:03 October 15, 2018

Dark job outlook
Temporary positions in public sector not the answer

The latest job data showed a slight rebound in the job market last month, as newly added jobs jumped on holiday sales and better weather after the scorching heat. According to Statistics Korea, Friday, the number of employed increased by 45,000 in September from a year earlier, after staying under 10,000 per month for the second straight month, with 5,000 in July and 3,000 in August year-on-year growth.

Despite the slight rebound, there is still plenty to be worried about. In September, Korea's jobless rate hit 3.6 percent, up 0.3 percentage points from 2017. It is the highest September jobless figure since 2005. Cheong Wa Dae said the results were better than anticipated, but the job situation was still grave.

The number of unemployed people reached 1.02 million last month, up 92,000 from 2017. The results are not good considering that the government has been implementing a 3.9 trillion won ($3.69 billion) supplementary budget aimed at creating jobs.

The rebound in new jobs was due to seasonal reasons, so it is hard to expect that such a trend will continue in the coming months. In particular, sectors that are hit hardest by the government's policy to raise the minimum wage, including restaurants and the retail sector, have suffered a considerable reduction in job growth.

It is worrisome that the government is still relying on half-baked measures to spur job creation. During the government audit at the National Assembly, a controversy arose over the finance ministry's push to increase temporary jobs at more than 300 public corporations and agencies. According to some lawmakers, the Ministry of Economy and Finance sent official notices to these organizations earlier this month, instructing them to devise a plan to increase jobs within their organizations this year.

Although the ministry explained that this was a routine notice, speculation is growing that the government is pressuring them to hire more temporary workers to raise hastily the number of new jobs. KORAIL, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, recently announced openings for 1,000 temporary positions, consisting of interns and contract workers. Rep. Park Wan-su of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party said such pressure to hire more temporary workers would hamper the situation in public corporations, which already face financial difficulties.

Expanding temporary jobs at public agencies and corporations is not a fundamental solution to the grave job crisis facing Korea. It also goes against President Moon Jae-in's policy of boosting quality jobs and reducing irregular workers. As the President recently said, the corporate sector is the main creator of jobs. The government should focus more on fixing the structural problems that hamper Korea's businesses from investing and hiring more.

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