Korea suffers sharp decline in labor productivity

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Seoul (The Korea Herald/ANN) - South Korea posted the second-largest drop in labor productivity among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development during the third quarter of 2012.

According to the OECD, Korea's labor productivity fell by 0.4 percent in the July-September period from a quarter before, along with the Czech Republic and Portugal, both of which recorded the same figure.

While Norway saw its labor productivity, or the rate of output per worker per unit of time, fall heaviest by 1.3 percent, two more countries - Finland (minus 0.2 percent) and Italy (minus 0.1 percent) - also suffered a drop. Sixteen of the 22 OECD members posted a quarter-to-quarter growth in the index.

Analysts said that the weaker labor productivity in Korea was attributable to a sharp drop in the third-quarter GDP growth.

While the nation saw the number of employees climb 0.5 percent in the third quarter, its economy grew a meager 0.1 percent on-quarter.

On an yearly basis, after undergoing slowed growth of 1.6 percent in 2009, 0.8 percent in 2010 and 0.3 percent in 2011, Korea underwent a 0.1 percent drop for the first nine months of 2012.

A research report from the Ministry of Knowledge Economy also showed that prolonged global recession caused exports to slow and dampened consumer sentiment, which also negatively affected labor productivity.

"Labor input grew at a rapid pace, but production output fell short of expectations," the report said.

According to the Korea Productivity Center, the nation's labor productivity "index" took a negative turn in the first quarter of last year, when it stood at 104.6, marking a 2.3 percent drop over the same period of 2011.

For per capita productivity improvement, it is necessary to fuel export competitiveness among small and mid-sized enterprises and measures to boost sagging private consumption, said economists.

They also advise that subsidies or tax incentives may be offered to companies for investing in programs to increase the work efficiency of their employees.

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