Polarization of the Minimum Wage
Polarization of the Minimum Wage
  • Kim Yun-ha (News Editor)
  • 승인 2019.09.03 21:48
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ST hears about opinions on the minimum wage increase from different sides. What is your opinion on the minimum wage increase? --------------------------------------------------------Ed

 On July 12, the Minimum Wage Commission voted for the minimum wage for 2020, which is 8,590 won per hour. It is a 2.87% increase from the 2019’s minimum wage of 8,350 won. The minimum wage system protects low wage-earning workers by forcing the nation to set the minimum wage level, and to pay such workers above this level. This minimum wage increase rate is the lowest in 10 years since the financial crisis, with 2.8 percent in 2010. Korean government issued an official apology, acknowledging the failure of the ̒10,000 won minimum wage pledge by 2020’. In this article, ST listened to the opinions of Soongsilians. Also, ST looked up how changes in the minimum wage affect society.

ST, Kim Yun-ha
ST, Kim Yun-ha


  ST listened to 36 Soongsilians on this tense subject. The sample of the survey was so small, but it was important to listen to the opinions of the Soongsilians. Asked whether they were satisfied with the planned minimum wage increase, more than 5 percent of respondents said they were not satisfied. Among the reasons cited, ̒the minimum wage was enough (38.9%)’ and ̒the minimum wage increase is too small (25%)’ accounted for more than half of the total. Other opinions included ̒reduction of jobs’ and ̒minimization of non-regular wages’ as a result of the minimum wage hike. Asked about the future direction of the minimum wage, 66.7 percent of the respondents said the minimum wage should be raised in the future, citing ̒continuous inflation (75%)’, and ̒because the existing minimum wage was too small (25%)’. A total of 33.3 percent of the respondents said the minimum wage should be lowered in the future because ̒wage increases in the current situation do not fit the state (50%)’, ̒it is difficult to find work (33.3%)’, and there is ̒increased employer burden due to higher labor costs (33.3%)’.

 We will suffer many social fluctuations due to the minimum wage increase in 2020. A minimum wage increase contributes to increasing wage income for workers across the board, and reduces the wage gap among those who work where they receive the minimum wage. As a result of the high minimum wage increase, hourly and monthly wages in the bottom one third percentile will increase, and workers’ wage inequality will also improve. However, the total output will decrease as unstable companies respond by reducing working hours and paying bonuses on a basic basis. As more and more people want to work for a short period of time, it will also be difficult to get the minimum wage and work long hours. This phenomenon means that internal restructuring takes precedence due to the minimum wage increase.

 The issue of the minimum wage is not a simple matter. It is not easy to find a solution because it is not a simple problem, yet we should try to solve this serious problem. Furthermore, minimum wage issues will be closely influenced by other concerns in the future. Stakeholders must understand each other, and initiate concessions among small business owners, the self-employed shouldering high fees and paying for big business franchises, and hired workers. When the minimum wage is determined according to the principles of a market economy, and not based on a political decision, it will produce satisfactory results.

Kim Yun-ha (News Editor)


Lee Ju-a (ST Cub-Reporter)



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