Minimum hourly wage annual increase rate South Korea 2010-2018

The minimum wage in South Korea jumped by 16.4 percent between 2017 and 2018 to reach 7,530 South Korean won per hour. In 2019, the minimum wage increased further to 8,350 won per hour. The repercussions of this move will have both positive and negative economic consequences, with some arguing unemployment will increase as smaller merchants become unable to pay their employees.

South Korea’s workforce

South Korea’s workforce is heavily dependent on the services sector, with over 70 percent employed in this economic sector in 2017. The economic contribution from this sector to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country was over 50 percent in the same year. The industry sector also employed a large share of the workforce in the country, and around 36 percent of the GDP was attributed to production in this sector.

Economic pressure

In 2019, the unemployment rate in the country peaked at 4.4 percent – the highest percentage since 2010. In particular, the retailing, manufacturing and construction sectors felt the brunt of the minimum wage increase, as employers became reluctant to hire low-paid workers. Along with other economic pressures, the weakened labor market looks set to drive future policy changes within the country.

Annual growth rate of the minimum hourly wage in South Korea from 2010 to 2018

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Release date

June 2018


South Korea

Survey time period

2010 to 2018

Supplementary notes

Note: 1,000 South Korean won equal 0.93 U.S. dollars and 0.79 euros (as of June 2018).

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