Japanese Job Market Shifts to Part-Time, Lower Pay

Japan’s tradition of lifetime employment, or “full-time” employment, is crumbling. “Part-time” positions have ballooned to create an underclass of 20 million temporary workers, including an increasing number of women, who are paid less for the same work.

Published MAY 30, 2014

Decreasing Pay Sets Japan Apart Among Developed Nations

Japan is the only country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that has seen average pay decline steadily since 2000.

Year-over-year percentage change in average pay since 2000

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Source: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

Uptick in Part-Time Jobs Mostly to Blame for Lower Pay

While Japan and the U.S. define part-time differently, the essence is the same. In both places, part-time means lower pay, fewer benefits and little job security. Japan’s workforce is increasingly comprised of part-timers, while the U.S. is heading toward pre-recession levels.

Percentage of work force employed part-time for any reason

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Note: Japanese labor survey changed in 2002, and reporting changed from annual to quarterly.

Sources: “Special Survey of the Labor Force Survey” (1984 to 2001), “Labour Force Survey (Detailed Tabulation)” (2002 to present), U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Trend Toward Temp Work a Women’s Issue in Japan

Part-time work accounts for a greater share of employment for Japanese women than it does for Japanese men.

Share of male workers who are part-time vs. share of female workers who are part-time

58% of women in the workforce were part-time in the first quarter of 2014 vs. only 22% of male workers

Wage gaps in OECD countries, 2011
(Percentage difference between median earnings for male and female full-time workers)

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Note: Japanese labor survey changed in 2002, and reporting changed from annual to quarterly.

Sources: “Special Survey of the Labor Force Survey” (1984 to 2001), “Labour Force Survey (Detailed Tabulation)” (2002 to present), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

GRAPHIC BY CHLOE WHITEAKER / BLOOMBERG VISUAL DATA; JASON CLENFIELD / BLOOMBERG NEWS