+ A

Economically inactive ranks keep on rising

Nov 06,2019
The number of Koreans choosing not to work reached an all-time high for the month of August, particularly among the elderly.

According to a Statistics Korea report released Tuesday, the number of so-called economically inactive individuals stood at 16.3 million in August, rising by 158,000 or 1 percent from the previous year.

The economically inactive population has been on the rise since 1999, when the statistic first began to be recorded in its current form. These individuals consist of the population over 15 years old that are able to work but choose not to. As they are not actively seeking a job, they are not considered unemployed.

They include such groups as younger people studying for entrance exams or civil service exams. But this year, the biggest increase was in individuals aged over 59, which rose by 169,000 or 2.7 percent from last August. That age group accounted for 38.5 percent of the economically inactive last year, which rose to 39.2 percent in August.

The rise is in line with Korea’s rapid aging. People over the age of 64 will account for nearly half of the population by 2067.

This year’s rise was offset by declines in younger age groups such as individuals in their 30s, which fell by 52,000.

One particular category, people who decided to “rest,” rose across all ages above 19. (Other categories in the group remain productive by doing housework or raising children.)

Overall, the number of resting Koreans increased by 349,000 or 19.1 percent to 2.17 million. Among people in their 20s, the number of people resting rose 22 percent to 350,000. In the 30s age group, the number rose 30 percent to 249,000.

The top reason for resting was health followed by difficulty finding a job.

Of the total economically non-active population, 744,000 individuals were preparing to find a job by doing such activities as studying for exams, compared to 670,000 the previous year, an 11 percent increase.

Statistics Korea also found a decline in the number of self-employed.

Self-employed business owners with workers dropped by 7 percent or 116,000 to 1.54 million, while owners without workers increased by 97,000 or 2.4 percent from the previous year. That led to a 0.9 percent decline in the overall number of self-employed workers by 62,000 to 6.80 million.

BY CHAE YUN-HWAN [chae.yunhwan@joongang.co.kr]