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36.7 Years Old

Posted December. 04, 2003 22:59,   


The average age of workers is increasing.

According to the Labor Ministry on December 4, the average age of workers at workplaces with more than ten employees has jumped by eight years, from 28.8 in 1980 to 36.7 last year.

The average years of continuous service have also increased from three years to six during the same period.

This is due to the vigorous economic activity of senior citizens over 55 and the huge increase in the number of youths’ (age 15~29) who continue their studies. “Young blood” is not being pumped into the labor market.

The trend is stronger at individual corporations that are reluctant to employ new workers.

The average age of regular employees at Hyundai Heavy Industries, which has not particularly laid off employees since its establishment in 1973, amounts to 44.5 (16 years of continuous service).

For regular production workers at Hyundai Motor Company, the average age has increased from 31.3 in 1994 to 37.6 at the end of last year. The years of continuous service has jumped from 6.9 to 12.6.

The two corporations do not fill up the naturally occurring vacancies by retirement, but instead mainly entrust most of their work to contractors.

Because most corporations select a seniority-based wage system, in which the wages increase according to the continuous years of service, the aging of workers acts as a labor cost burden on corporations.

At a recent meeting, Hyundai Motor’s labor union reported, “There is high possibility that management will suggest layoffs or voluntary retirements for employment control,” and began preparing countermeasures.

Kyung-Joon Chung news91@donga.com