More women, old people to join labor force by 2023

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SEJONG, Dec. 2 – More women and people aged 55 or more will likely be economically active in 2023 due to the country’s low birth rate, the labor ministry said Tuesday.

The Ministry of Employment and Labor said that the country’s economically active population and the number of people aged 15 or more will increase by 3.58 million and 2.04 million, respectively, between 2013 and 2023.

The number of employed will rise by 3.22 million while the employment rate of people aged 16-64 will jump to 71.8 percent in 2023, the ministry forecast in a report on the mid- and long-term outlook for manpower supply and demand.

About 56.2 percent of working age women will likely participate in economic activities in 2023, up 6 percentage points from 50.2 percent in 2013, the report said. The corresponding share for males will likely increase by only 4.1 percentage points, it added.

During the same period, the proportion of old people aged 55 or older who participate in economic activities will increase by 7.9 percentage points to 55.4 percent in 2023, while the population of economically-active youth and middle-aged people will decline due to the nation’s steadily declining birth rate, the report forecast.

In terms of industry, the numbers of jobs in social welfare services, business-support services and healthcare services is forecast to increase greatly, while jobs in agriculture, education and finance will decline, the report said.

The ministry also forecast that the nation will suffer from a shortage of newly-hired manpower, as the demand for fresh manpower will go beyond the supply during the 10-year period.

Based on the outlook, the ministry stressed the need to efficiently use manpower to cope with a slowdown in population growth in the future.

South Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest economy, has been gripped by a persistently falling birthrate. Last year, the country’s birth rate, which measures the number of children that a woman is expected to have throughout her lifetime, stood at 1.187, down 0.11 from the previous year.