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`Lee Effect’ to Boost Employment

Posted January. 11, 2008 07:24,   


In the run-up to the presidential inauguration of Lee Myung-bak, Korea’s key business groups are showing signs of hiring more employees than expected.

This trend has become notable since President-elect Lee met with business leaders and asked them to increase investment and employment. This has led some to predict that a ‘Lee effect’ will positively affect the job market.

The Dong-A Ilbo conducted a survey of corporate recruiters for the nation’s ten largest firms by asset, including privatized state-owned firms (firms exclusively owned by the state are excluded) to better grasp this year’s employment trend.

According to the survey, LG, Kumho Asiana, Lotte and POSCO will increase the employment quota initially set late last year.

A spokesperson for LG Group, which hired around 3,000 university graduates in 2007, said, “We have yet to decide this year’s employment quota. However, we’ll certainly hire more employees than last year.”

Kumho Asiana Group recently increased its employment quota (including workers already with experience) by 400 from 2,200 to 2,600.

SK Group and KT are also considering hiring more employees than originally scheduled.

The person in charge of SK’s human resources said, “In the business community, more firms are trying to increase employment quota in response to the request of the president-elect. We’ll hire 10-15% more employees than last year.”

A spokesperson for KT, the nation’s biggest fixed-line telecom carrier, said, “We have yet to make a final decision on this year’s recruitment plan. However, we’re considering hiring more than last year.”

Companies that originally planned to cut the number of new hires to maintain last-year’s employment levels are now changing their plans.

The head of POSCO recruitment said, “Since President-elect Lee Myung-bak is making great efforts to improve the business environment, we have decided to hire 200 in 2008, the same as last year.”

In December 2007, the steelmaker announced that it would reduce employment quota and add only 100-150 new workers on payroll in 2008 since it had hired too many university graduates the past two years.

After hiring 1,300 workers last year, Lotte Group decided to decrease its employment quota to 1,000 this year. However, it decided to maintain last year’s employment quota by changing its recruitment policy.

Hyundai-Kia Automotive, GS, and Hanjin, among the nation’s ten major business groups, have not changed their original recruitment plans. Samsung Group has yet set an employment quota since it has not finalized an employment plan for 2008.

According to a survey of the nation’s 500 largest firms by sales conducted by recruitment information provider Career over five days beginning January 3, the number of new hires is expected to increase 1.2% from the previous year to 28,599 in 2008.

“Considering that 112 out of the 500 firms have yet to complete their employment plan, the number of newly hired will exceed at least 30,000 in 2008,” said a spokesperson for Career.

lovesong@donga.com woogija@donga.com