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[News Focus] Korea ranks 8th of 10 nations in Q3 employment

Lackluster hiring of women drags down performance

Nov. 7, 2021 - 18:30 By Kim Yon-se
Headquarters of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris (OECD)

SEJONG -- South Korea placed eighth among 10 major economies in employment rate in the third quarter of 2021, which suggests that the country would still lag behind most members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in the hiring sector.

The OECD has compared the figures for nine members -- which have publicized the third-quarter employment rates among the total 38 members -- and one nonmember, Russia.

Korea posted a 66.8 percent employment rate for the working-age population (those aged between 15-64), while six other OECD others and Russia were found to have held higher figures.

Countries in the Asia-Pacific region made up the top three of the 10 economies. New Zealand topped the list with 79.1 percent, followed by Japan with 78 percent and Australia with 74.8 percent.
(Graphic by Yoon Jeong-soon/The Korea Herald)

The next in rank were Canada at 73.8 percent, Russia at 72 percent and the US at 69.7 percent. The figure for Korea was also lower than the 67 percent in Israel. Korea ranked above only two -- Colombia and Chile.

During the Moon Jae-in administration, the employment rate -- which is made public each quarter -- has continued to stay under the OECD average, except for during the second quarter of 2020, when the number of COVID-19 infections in Europe and North America made record-breaking surges.

But Korea fell short of the OECD average again in the third and fourth quarters of 2020 and the first and second quarters of 2021.

There is a high possibility that the situation will continue in the third quarter of 2021 when the Paris-based organization compiles figures for the other members, given that the third-quarter figure (66.8 percent) for Korea is also lower than the second-quarter OECD average of 67.4 percent.

More and more countries in Europe as well as South and North America have posted gradual improvements in employment indices since the fourth quarter of 2020, while Korea’s figure has stalled.

Meanwhile, the OECD data showed that the disparity between men and women in Korea maintained in the third quarter: While the employment rate for men reached 75.4 percent, the figure for women stayed at 58.1 percent in the nation.

In the second quarter, the women’s employment rate in Korea posted 57.6 percent. The figure was calculated as the portion of those employed among the female working-age population.

This placed the nation at 30th place of the 37 surveyed. Of the total 38 members, Turkey was not included in the research.

In the second-quarter figures for female employment, Korea lagged far behind neighbors in the Asia-Pacific region: 71.3 percent was reported for women in Japan (13th), 71.7 percent in Australia (10th) and 73.5 percent in New Zealand (sixth).

Among emerging economies, Estonia placed No. 14 with 70.4 percent, Latvia (16th) was at 68.3, Slovenia (17th) hit 68.1 percent, Hungary (18th) had 67.8 percent, the Czech Republic (22nd) marked 66.3 percent and Slovakia’s (23rd) sat at 65 percent.

The top 10 in the female employment ranking included the Netherlands (No. 1 at 77.7 percent), Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the UK.

While the average of Group of 7 countries reached 65.9 percent, 69.1 percent was seen in Canada, along with 64.3 percent in the US and 64.1 percent in France. The OECD average was 60.1 percent, also higher than Korea’s.

As for men’s employment rate, Korea ranked 19th among the 37 members with 75.1 percent in the corresponding second quarter.

This contrasted with 84 percent in the Netherlands (No. 1), 83.9 percent in Japan (second), 82.2 percent in New Zealand (fourth), 81.1 percent in the Czech Republic (sixth) and 78 percent in Hungary (10th).

By Kim Yon-se (