The Korea Labour Institute announced on Jan. 29 that South Korean companies hired 17,488 foreign workers in the first quarter of 2019, up 1,115 from a year ago. The number of foreign workers that Korean companies needed in that period totaled 19,717, down 582 from the previous year.
Korean companies could not fill 11.3 percent of their job openings for foreign workers in that period, which was 8 percentage points lower than the rate a year ago.
In Seoul, both the number of job openings for foreign workers and the number of newly hired foreign workers increased year on year and the gap between the two dropped from 17.1 percent to 5.3 percent. In the first quarter of 2019, companies in Seoul needed more service workers than manufacturing workers and the two figures were equal in the manufacturing sector of the city.
When it comes to Gyeonggi Province, the gap was 8.9 percent, manufacturers were in need of more foreign workers, and the gap amounted to 71.9 percent in the case of construction jobs.
Companies in South Chungcheong, South Gyeongsang and North Gyeongsang Provinces posted relatively high ratios of foreign worker underemployment. Specifically, the ratios are 19.9 percent, 16.6 percent and 15.5 percent, respectively. For example, those in South Chungcheong Province posted job openings for 1,823 foreign workers and hired 1,460 foreign workers in Q1, 2019.
By industrial field, the demand for foreign workers was by far the highest in manufacturing and relatively high in education service, construction and facility management.