Alternative Measures of Asian Labor Markets after the Asian Financial Crisis

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As part of research on the causes and consequences of the Asian Financial Crisis in the late 1990s, this paper aims to examine what happened to Asian labor markets in the aftermath of the financial crisis. For this purpose, the paper begins by surveying the conventional practice of the standard labor force statistics in selected Asian countries. After examining various problems associated with this conventional measure, the author introduces a series of alternative frameworks such as the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)’ multiple unemployment rates series and the International Labor Office (ILO)’s Labor Underutilization Frameworks, both of which are designed to gauge both quantity and quality aspects of underemployment of labor. The paper then attempts to use these alternative frameworks in analyzing the Asian labor markets in order to show how the Asian labor markets were drastically changed under the dire environments of ongoing structural adjustment process after the financial crisis. The analysis in this paper reveals that the ‘economic recovery’ in Asia (particularly in Korea), if any, was not accompanied by comparable improvements in the quality and quantity of employment, and that the number of discouraged and marginally attached workers, together with involuntarily part-time workers have been continuously rising. The paper also shows that the vast majority of employed workers are under time-, income- and/or skill-related inadequate employment situations and this labor underutilization persists even after the financial crisis was over.