Young people dropping off South Korea’s permanent workforce

More South Korean workers in their 20s are staying idle amid poorer employment conditions or are engaged in temporary employment.
By: | September 28, 2022

Younger workers in South Korea are either staying idle, or juggling part-time jobs and side hustles amid scarcer job opportunities and wage rates falling behind inflation. 

As many as 356,000 people in their 20s fell under the “economic inactive” category, defined as those unengaged in work-related training or job-seeking activities, surging by 54% compared to six years ago.

During the COVID-19 peak period, those who were not in education, employment, or training (NEET) rose by 437,000 people, but despite normalisation of business activities, the number has not fallen, reported Pulse News.

This group of people can be distinguished from those who are unemployed and have the will to work but cannot find a job. 

Last month, the number of people who were economically inactive in their 20s hit 2,229,000, which is roughly the same level from six years ago, but those under the NEET category rose over 120,000 during the same period. 

READ: Most South Korean workers cannot adopt flexible work arrangements

In a high inflation and interest rate environment, young workers are also looking for side gigs to survive. As of May 2022, some 630,000 young workers aged 15 to 29 have side jobs, an increase of 41.5% compared to 2016, according to Statistics Korea.