The number of self-employed and unsalaried work force in Korea fell this year as more street shops go out of business amid the protracted economic slowdown and hike in minimum wage, data showed.
According to the latest study on the working population released by Statistics Korea on Wednesday, the number of self-employed and unsalaried workers was tallied at 6,862,000 as of August, down 36,000 from the same period last year. For full 2017, the number had increased by 4,000.
The category refers to self-employed and those who work for family business or farm without regular pay. They made up 25.5 percent of working people, more or less unchanged from 25.6 percent a year ago.
The self-employed with hired help increased 4.5 percent to 1.651 million this year from a year ago. Those sustaining business without paid help were reduced by 3 percent to 4.03 million to suggest small mom-and-pop stores would have been first to close down.
In line with other data, the wholesale and retail business shed most people, down 53,000 - the largest loss since the data was compiled. Other job data showed the biggest losses in retail, wholesale, restaurant, and lodging - consumer sections that hinge on local demand and pay on minimum wage. Minimum wage from beginning of the year went up by double digits.
People aged 60 or older made up 30 percent of the self-employed. Nearly 60 percent of people who have been in the business for less than a year had been previously salaried earners, suggesting the laid-off work force in Korea has little option to earn a living but to start their own shop or business.
By Sohn Il-seon and Lee Eun-joo
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]