Korea’s manufacturing sector loses 180,000 jobs over past 5 years

2022.01.24 16:56:29

[Graphics by Song Ji-yoon]이미지 확대

[Graphics by Song Ji-yoon]

South Korea has seen a significant decrease in the number of workers in the manufacturing sector over the past five years while overseas employment has surged, losing its fame as a manufacturing prowess to rival countries.

The country’s manufacturing jobs in 2019 fell by about 180,000 compared to 2015, according to the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) on Monday. The decrease is equal to the combined number of local employees of Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor, two of the largest companies in Korea.

Between 2015 and 2019, the number of employees in the manufacturing industry decreased by 3.9 percent in Korea but increased in Japan, Germany, and the United States by 3.3 percent (340,000), 3.3 percent (250,000), and 3.1 percent (490,000), respectively.

Employment restructuring and layoffs in shipbuilding and automobile sectors in the period were the main cause of the drop, the FKI said. The number of employees in the transportation sector that includes the shipbuilding industry fell by 74,000 and the number of employees in the automobile sector shrank by 14,000 in January 2020 compared to January 2016, according to data from the Ministry of Employment and Labor.

In contrast, Japan, Germany, and the U.S. saw the number of workers in their manufacturing industry increase thanks to continued efforts made since 2008 to strength their manufacturing base and support reshoring to create more local jobs, according to the FKI.

Meanwhile, Korea’s portion of the global manufacturing output fell 0.2 percentage points from 3.2 percent in 2015 to 3.0 percent in 2019, according to the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). During the same period, China and India increased their output by 2.1 and 0.4 percentage points, respectively, while the U.S. and Germany saw their portion decrease by 0.6 and 0.3 percent, respectively. Japan’s portion of the global manufacturing output remained unchanged.

By Susan Lee

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