Date
22 May 2017
Average hourly wages offered to part-time job applicants in Japan’s three largest metropolitan areas have increased for 33 consecutive months. Photo: Bloomberg
Average hourly wages offered to part-time job applicants in Japan’s three largest metropolitan areas have increased for 33 consecutive months. Photo: Bloomberg

Higher wages for part-timers a bright spot in Japanese economy

Wages for part-time workers in offices, restaurants and factories in Japan have been rising as a result of labor shortages, Bloomberg reported.

Average hourly wages offered to part-time job applicants in Japan’s three largest metropolitan areas increased 1.8 percent in March from a year earlier, the 33rd consecutive monthly gain, figures from Recruit Jobs, a Tokyo placement company, show.

Wages in six job categories — including clerical jobs in offices, call center operations, and data entry work — were higher.

The gains for part-timers — which were even stronger at a record 2.2 percent in February — are outpacing those for full-time workers because employers are turning to them to fill gaps as the shrinking and aging population reduces their workforce.

“It has completely become a workers’ market because of the severe shortage of part-time workers,” said Kuniko Usagawa, senior manager of the jobs research center at Recruit Jobs.

“It’s getting more difficult to hire people unless companies raise their wages, even if working hours are short.”

Part-time employees made up a record 30 percent of Japan’s labor force last year, rising from 13 percent in 1990, labor ministry figures show.

Pay for part-time workers nationwide rose 0.5 percent last year, compared with a 0.4 percent increase for Japan’s full-time employees.

The nationwide wage increase is smaller than the gains in the metropolitan areas because the economic weakness in some smaller cities and rural areas leads to fewer job openings.

There are limits to the economic benefits that come from wage gains in the part-time category.

In Japan’s two-tier employment system, regular full-time workers are typically paid more per hour and have benefits and job security that allow them to spend more.

Part-timers with less security and lower overall income are less likely to make a big impact on consumption.

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