The number of workers who were paid less than the minimum wage reached a total of 3,215,000 last year, a survey showed. It was the second largest yearly number after 2019 (3,386,000). The number of workers earning less than the minimum wage stays at the 3 million level since 2018 when the number topped 3 million for the first time and when the minimum wage was raised 16.4 percent from the previous year.
Announced on Sunday, the Korea Employers Federation’s analysis showed a total of 3,215,000 of 20,992,000 salaried workers were paid less than the minimum wage last year.
The ratio of workers paid less than the minimum wage y significant discrepancies between industry. A total of 68,000 (54.8 percent) of the 124,000 salaried workers in the agricultural, forestry and fisheries industry, and 504,000 (40.2 percent) of 1,252,000 salaried workers in the lodging and restaurant industry received less than the minimum wage. In contrast, the ratio of salaried workers who were paid less than the minimum wage came to 1.9 percent in the information and telecommunications industry, 3.5 percent in the professional, science and technical service industry, and 5.2 percent in the manufacturing, which were lower than the average across industries.
Also, the smaller the scale of the employer, the higher the ratio of workers who are paid less than the minimum wage. The ratio of workers who were paid less than the minimum wage was 2.7 percent at larger employers with 300 or more workers, while that at employers with less than 30 workers amounted to 22.1 percent. At employers with less than 5 workers, as much as 33.6 percent were paid less than the minimum wage.
The Korea Employers Federation said, “Because the minimum wage was increased so rapidly over the past several years, the Korean labor market failed to accommodate the hike.” According to the federation, the speed of minimum wage hikes in Korea is faster than its rival countries. The rate of cumulative minimum wage hike in Korea during 2016-2022 amounted to 44.6 percent, which is higher than the rate of G7 countries namely Canada (26.5 percent), the U.K. (23.1 percent), Japan (13.0 percent), Germany (12.4 percent), France (6.0 percent), and the U.S. (0 percent). The ratio of minimum wage relative to the median wage also came to 61.2 percent in Korea, which was higher than the OECD average of 55.2 percent and the G7 average of 49.2 percent.