Latest government data show that 62% of foreign workers in South Korea earn an average monthly wage of at least two million won. The figure increased by approximately 5 percentage points from a year ago with the minimum wage and consumer prices rising.
Most of the foreign workers are currently working for small manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers, with more than 40% of them working for at least 50 hours a week, according to the data released by Statistics Korea and the Ministry of Justice on Dec. 19.
According to the survey, 1,301,000 foreigners aged 15 or more stayed in South Korea for at least 91 days as of May 15 this year, up 6.2% from a year earlier. Additionally, 52,000 persons were allowed to be naturalized within five years.
Of the total, 307,000 stayed in South Korea with the F-4 visa, which is issued to overseas Koreans. Meanwhile, only 2.9% did so with the E-1 to E-7 visas for professionals. Korean Chinese account for 40% of the total, followed by Chinese (11.5%) and Vietnamese (10.9%).
Among foreigners staying in Korea, 68% or 884,000 are employed. The ratio edged down by 0.1 percentage points year on year and exceeds the country’s overall employment rate by 6.7 percentage points. The foreigners’ unemployment rate rose 0.8 percentage points year on year to 4.8%. In May, South Korea’s overall unemployment rate rose 0.4 percentage points to 4.0%, affecting the foreigners’ employment rate.
Their average monthly wage was 2 million won to less than 3 million won for 49.5% and at least 3 million won for 12.7%, up 2.6 and 2.3 percentage points from a year ago. Of the total, 46.4% worked for 40 hours to less than 50 hours a week, followed by those working for 50 hours to less than 60 hours (19.7%) and at least 60 (21.6%). For reference, South Koreans employees’ weekly average working hours was 41.5 from January to November this year.
Foreigners working in the mining and manufacturing industries accounted for 45.8% of the total and 18.5% worked in retail, wholesale, food service and lodging. About 70 percent worked for businesses with less than 30 employees. They are divided into 29%, 21.6%, and 18.1% working for those with 10 to 29 employees, five to nine, and four or less, respectively.