Economically active population predicted to take downward turn in 2028 in S. Korea

South Korea
Photo: Yonhap

Both the economically active population and the number of employees in South Korea are forecast to take a downward turn in 2028 amid the country's low birth rate and aging population, a government agency said Tuesday, Yonhap reports. 

The Korea Employment Information Service (KEIS) made the prediction in its report on the workforce supply for the 2022-32 period, raising alarms over a workforce shortage the country is feared to experience.

Under the forecast, the economically active population aged 15 or over is expected to grow by 316,000 individuals from 2022 to 2032, marking only one-tenth of the growth of 3.14 million recorded in the previous 10-year period.

However, the size of the economically active population is predicted to peak at 29.49 million in 2027 and begin to decline in 2028 to presumably reach 29.24 million in 2032, the agency said.

The forecasted decline in the supply of workforce may also lead to a downward turn in the number of employed individuals aged 15 or over starting in 2028, it said.

The number of employed individuals is forecast to peak at 28.78 million in 2027 before falling to 28.4 million in 2032, indicating an addition of 309,000 more employed individuals in the 2022-32 period. Compared with the preceding decade when such growth amounted to 3.13 million, the growth projected for 2022-32 represents only one-tenth.

The employment rate among individuals aged 15 or higher is also expected to turn downward in 2028, reaching 61.3 percent in 2032 from 62.1 percent recorded in 2022, the KEIS said.

The agency predicted that by 2032, the country may need an additional workforce of 894,000 individuals, or 89,000 annually, in order to sustain the economic growth rate between 1.9 percent and 2.1 percent.

"If the necessary workforce is not properly supplied, achieving the economic growth rate of 1.9 percent to 2.1 percent will become difficult," the KEIS said.

Among different industries, the health care and welfare service sector is expected to see the sharpest increase in hiring demand, with an additional 138,000 workers projected to be in demand by 2032.

The manufacturing sector, and the wholesale and retail industry were predicted to be in need of an additional 137,000 workers and 118,000 workers, respectively.

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