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Incomes of Koreans in their 20s remains flat

Dec 26,2017

Earnings by Korean households made up of people under 30 moved up a mere 0.4 percent on-year in 2016, mainly due to a weak job market, official data showed Monday.

Data released by Statistics Korea, the Bank of Korea and the Financial Supervisory Service showed average earnings of households where the main breadwinner was under 30 reached 32.79 million won ($30,494), a very slight gain from 2015.

It said among age groups, the rise in earnings for people in their teens and 20s was the slowest.

Earnings rose 4.5 percent for households led by a person in their 30s, with the corresponding number for people in their 50s and 40s moving up 4.3 percent and 3.6 percent respectively.

Households made up of people in their 20s had the smallest income after people in their 60s, and well below the national average of just over 50 million won.

In addition, the disposable income for young households actually declined 0.3 percent on-year in 2016 to 28.14 million won.

It said in terms of disposable income, numbers have been on the decline since 2015.

“This group was the only one reporting an annual drop in disposable income,” an official source said.

He said the main reason for the poor numbers was employment conditions.

It is very hard for young people to get jobs, and even if they manage to land a position they suffer from lower wages and lack of benefits that affect overall earnings.

The jobless rate for people from 15 through 29 stood at 9.8 percent last year, much higher than the average for Korea as a whole.

Besides unemployment, debt incurred by people under 30 jumped 41.9 percent on-year to 23.85 million won. The increase is linked to education-related outlays and loans to buy or rent homes.

“There has been a rise in jobs but this has been centered on older people and women,” said Lee Geun-tae, a senior researcher at LG Economic Research Institute.

He warned that if this shortcoming continues it can lead to fiscal problems and adversely impact the country’s growth potential.