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Record high raise in minimum wage could be double-edged sword for the employees and employers Updated: 2017-07-18 07:28:49 KST

Korea saw the sharpest raise in the minimum wage since 2001, with the country's minimum wage for next year set at 7,530 Korean won, or roughly 6 dollars 64 cents up 16.4 percent from this year.
Compared to how over the past five years, the average wage increase has stood at 7.4 percent, this decision, made by a council of representatives for labor, businesses, and the general public, was a huge surprise, and received mixed reactions.

"As someone who receives the minimum wage, I'm very happy about the sharp raise. Last year's increase wasn't very much so I couldn't really feel the raise."

"I did a part-time job at a restaurant last year, and while the job was tough, I was only paid about 5 dollars and 7 cents per hour, which I thought was not enough. So I'm for the raise this year.

"I do think that minimum wage needs to be raised, but not by this much. I am quite burdened, and am thinking whether I should cut down their working hours,.. or whether increase the prices."

To alleviate the burden on employers, the government also announced its contingency plan of funding roughly 3.5 billion U.S. dollars, in total, to small and medium enterprises, as well as giving them tax breaks, including lowering credit card processing fees and value-added tax.

The raise comes as part of President Moon Jae-in's campaign pledge to raise the minimum wage to roughly 9-U.S. dollars by 2020.
And while such a big jump in the minimum wage will be required for the next two years to achieve that goal, some experts say such a sharp hike, could ironically, lead to employers cutting jobs and leading to more workers becoming unemployed, rather than protecting them from being exploited.

"The government's monetary support shows how costly the hike is, and it's not a long-term solution either. So to raise the minimum wage without giving employers too much burden, the government should first provide the right conditions to boost the minimum wage, including more investment and R&D by firms,.. which will eventually lead to economic growth."

"While many workers support the move, arguing that it could lead to a rise in consumer spending, whether this is enough to offset business leaders' concerns remains to be seen. Lee Ji-won, Arirang News."
KOGL : Korea Open Government License
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