Salaried workers rush to take on multiple jobs amid soaring interest rates

The Korea Times


Employees have to take multiple jobs amid rising interest rates

Grocery delivery is one of the most popular part-time jobs in Korea.  / gettyimages bank
Grocery delivery is one of the most popular part-time jobs in Korea. / gettyimages bank

By Lee Min-hyung

Hired office workers are in a rush to take on side jobs to earn extra money amid the rising cost of living and mounting inflationary pressures.

Those in the middle-to-lower income bracket say having multiple jobs is a must in this era of rapid rate hikes. The rapid pace of the Bank of Korea’s monetary tightening is a serious fear factor for most households, as successive rate hikes in recent months have caused them to pay much more on mortgage loans. Rising prices have also led to a rise in basic living costs, which is reflected in gas and food price increases.

According to Statistics Korea, the number of concurrent workers rose to a record high of 629,610 in May. That’s a striking growth of around 65 percent compared to the pre-pandemic period in January 2020.

An office worker at a medium-sized company here said he had no choice but to work a part-time job to help pay for the rising cost of living for his three-person household.

“I rarely spend on myself, but my monthly salary isn’t enough to support my family at a time when mortgage interest rates and other rates are rising rapidly,” the office worker, in his 40s, said, asking not to be identified. “I have promoted my English skills on a private tutoring platform and am now tutoring a young unemployed person after work.

“I’m constantly thinking about how I can find other side jobs that pay well and are less time-sensitive so I can make extra money in a sustainable way for years to come,” he said.

Other data also showed that prices are rising at an alarming rate. Consumer prices rose 6.3 percent year-on-year in July. This is the highest rate of increase since November 1998, when the economy was hit hard by the Asian financial crisis.

Since the unfavorable macroeconomic situation is affecting people of all ages, those in their 50s and 60s are also looking for part-time jobs that offer stable sources of income.

“I work as a chauffeur for two with my boyfriend,” says a chauffeur in his 50s who wants to retire from his career as an office worker. “The friend has a car and he picks me up after I drive my clients at night and we move to another place and do the same thing. We are aware that the younger generation faces a harsh reality due to rising property prices and inflationary pressures. but the older generation must also have stable sources of income after retirement in view of the aging of the population.”

Others prefer to tighten their belts rather than seek side jobs, believing that spending less means making more.

“Many people think about how they can expand their income streams by doing more jobs, but I prefer to save more by reducing unnecessary living expenses and reducing the frequency of private gatherings,” said a 35-year-old employee.

“I used to do side jobs, just like other people, but I don’t do that anymore,” he said. “Instead, I’m studying more about investing. Investing in assets that offer stable income – such as dividend stocks – seems more appealing to me.”

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A one-man media company gains steam through YouTube.  gettyimages bank
A one-man media company gains steam through YouTube. gettyimages bank

More and more young people are also looking for new opportunities by creating YouTube channels where they upload stories about their personal lives or share tips on people’s daily lives.

“Even though it’s very difficult for ordinary people to generate significant income from their YouTube channel, some of them continue to upload content about what they love and are good at,” said an English teacher in his mid-30s.

“The good thing about YouTube is that it has the potential to become a jackpot business, even if it doesn’t generate immediate revenue in its early stages,” he said. “But more and more young people are creating channels while keeping their own jobs in hopes that it can become one of their future sources of income.”

Data from the statistical office showed that the number of self-employed people is declining here in view of the economic slowdown. The number reached around 5.63 million in 2018 but fell to 5.51 million last year. But the outlook for the self-employed remains bleak due to the ongoing pandemic, rising prices and high interest rates.

At the end of the first quarter, the total amount of loans received by the self-employed was 960.7 trillion won, according to the Bank of Korea. That figure is a 40.3 percent increase from the end of 2019, before the pandemic broke out and spread throughout the global economy.

“Most small business owners are trying to lower their fixed costs by cutting headcount to prepare for the negative economic outlook,” said a cafe owner in her 40s.

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