More than 32% of all Japanese workers in their 20s fear they may be laid off in the coming year. A whopping 53% of male Japanese temp workers in their 20s are scared of being laid off while 38% of female temp workers and 23% of full-time female workers are worried their jobs could disappear, according to an October survey by the Rengo Soken.
Part-time workers are hired under a bewildering variety of contracts and conditions, sometimes for fixed periods and sometimes for indefinite lengths of time. What they have in common is being paid by the hour, having no vacations and few, if any of the social allowances of regular workers. For women, this problems is particularly acute. Women made up about 89 percent of Japan’s 8 million part-time workers in 2009, according to the Health, Welfare and Labor Ministry.
While Japan’s unemployment peaked at 5.4% in 2009, it is still running in the 5% or more range. In 2007, according to the G20 International Labor Office, Japanese unemployment stood at around 3.7%. While many countries would be overjoyed to have only 5% unemployment, in Japan unemployment at this level is considered a deeply worrisome social problem.
Rengo Soken, known in English as the JTUC Research Institute for Advancement of Living Standards, is the think tank of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation. Founded in 1987 as a research and planning institute for the labor movement, and since 2001 has published twice yearly reports on Japanese employment. Rengo Soken is officially recognized by four Japanese government ministries involved with labor. Their surveys, along with those of the Naikakufu (Cabinet Research Office), are snapshots of the direction the average person sees the economy moving.
A recent survey shows some improvement of sentiment since October of last year, when 28% of all workers feared they might lose their jobs. However compared to a survey done in April of this year, the number of workers in their 20s who thought their jobs might disappear showed a worrying jump of over 10 points.