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Wages in Korea: average pay climbs, gender inequality remains

People cross a road at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul, May 16. Yonhap

The average wage of Korean workers has surpassed 90 percent of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average, reaching a new high, the data showed Thursday.However, disparities among workers remain a concern, with the gender pay gap being the most significant.The average wage of Korean workers stood at $48,922 in 2022, accounting for 91.6 percent of the OECD members’ average, according to the organization. This figure first surpassed the 90 percent mark in 2020, rising from 89.7 percent in 2019 to 90.4 percent, and continued to increase to 90.6 percent in 2021.The average wage, which was around $26,000 in 1992, first surpassed the $40,000 mark in 2011 and has recently approached the $50,000 mark, continuously narrowing the gap with the OECD average.This led Korea to rank 19th out of 38 OECD member countries. Iceland took the lead with $79,473, and Luxembourg followed with $78,310. The United States and Switzerland were next with $77,463 and $72,993, respectively. Mexico had the lowest wage at $16,685.Japan’s average wage was $41,509, placing it 25th. Korea first surpassed Japan in 2014, and the gap has been widening for ten years. As of 2022, Korea’s average wage is 1.2 times higher than Japan’s.

Despite the notable increase, the gender pay gap among Korean workers remains wide.In 2022, Korea recorded the highest gender pay gap among OECD countries at 31.2 percent, which is 26 times higher than Belgium’s, the country with the lowest gap at 1.2 percent. Israel had the second-largest gap at 25.4 percent, followed by Latvia at 24.9 percent and Japan at 21.3 percent. The U.S. had a gap of 17 percent.The wage difference based on company size and employment type was also prominent.According to data from Statistics Korea released last February, the average monthly pre-tax income for workers in large companies was 5.91 million won ($4,337.6). This was 2.1 times higher than the income for workers in small and medium-sized enterprises.Another survey released by the Ministry of Employment and Labor last month showed that the hourly wage for regular employees was 24,799 won, which is 1.4 times higher than that of non-regular employees.Experts urged for continuous efforts to reduce wage gaps in these areas, warning that such disparities could lead to social strife.”Since the OECD began publishing gender wage gap data in 2007 for 21 member countries, Korea has consistently had the largest gender wage gap, even as the number of surveyed countries has increased to 38,” Kim Nan-jue, a Korean Women’s Development Institute researcher, said.”Given the statistics on employment rates and wages, addressing the career interruptions faced by Korean women in their 30s is seen as a top priority for resolving gender disparities in Korea’s labor 카지노사이트킹 market.”

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