Labor refers to any work performed by humans, including all operations in the manufacturing and service industries that generate employment. The analysis of employment will reveal information about human resources and the statuses of labor market activities. It is important to monitor the growth and decline of the labor market, which have a direct impact on household income.
The Korean economy after the Korean War can be characterized by industrialization, service economization, globalization, and knowledge based-informationalization. Until the 1960s, the Korean economic structure was classified as a typical third-world economy that was largely based on its primary industrial sector. Since then, with strong government initiatives to industrialize the country, the manufacturing sector grew rapidly and provided more jobs to young and middle-aged employees. Although the fast growth of the manufacturing industry slowed down after it reached its peak in the 1990s, the service industry experienced steady growth and the Korean economy eventually became mostly service-oriented. Subsequently, there have been a few employment changes made in the labor market following the change from manufacturing to service industry. As there was more demand for an intellectual labor force than a physical labor force, the demand for higher education in employment increased. While domestic workers were avoiding physical labor in manufacturing jobs, more foreign workers were finding jobs in the manufacturing sector. Increased jobs in the service sector resulted in more female employees who now participate in economic activities, especially as more women obtained higher education. The rate of female employment has increased in professional, technical, and management positions. During the 1990s, Korea’s active participation in globalization, advanced communication skills, and faster flow of information coupled with knowledge all combined to gain new growth motivations that accelerated the rate of higher education among employees.
The average age of employees has increased since 1983 when the crude birth rate, which remains low, fell below 2.1. A higher unemployment rate for young workers became a social issue. In recent years the employment prospects have become more pessimistic as investors’ confidence has shrunk due to the worldwide economic crisis and its aftermath and the consequential slow rate of economic growth. The Korean government has tried multi-faceted efforts to provide good quality employment opportunities for both young and mature employment seekers.