Korea Labor Institute (KLI)
Changing Trends In The Youth Employment Crisis: 2004-2011 [21 January 2013]
Korea’s youth unemployment problem has continued to worsen since 2004: according to
an analysis of raw data from Statistics Korea’s Economically Active Population Survey and
Supplementary Results of the Economically Active Population Survey on Youths to confirm whether youth
unemployment affects all youths, more youths were delaying graduation or taking leaves of
absence due to unemployment. In addition, the degree of hardship experienced was found to
differ among youths: the younger and less educated tended to suffer more, and women tended to
suffer more than men.
Meanwhile, an analysis of whether the youth unemployment problem had a negative
impact on the quality of youth jobs showed that, contrary to speculation, during the period
between 2004 and 2011 the quality of jobs improved or at least remained the same in almost
every respect, including wage levels, percentage of permanent or above-one-year contract
positions, and social insurance subscriptions. According to a time-series analysis of the effect of
business size on wages performed to investigate the cause of this phenomenon by applying an
estimated wage function, during the period from 2004 to 2011, the wage premium according to
business size increased among not only youths but all wage workers.
Such a result contradicts the government’s previous claim that youth unemployment can
be solved by creating “decent jobs.” While it is important to create “decent jobs,” what is also
important is to bridge the gap in the quality of jobs. In other words, it is necessary to improve
the quality of jobs located in the margins of the job ladder in order to solve the youth
unemployment issue, and achieving this requires improvement of the competitiveness and
working conditions at small and medium-sized enterprises and middle-standing enterprises.
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