Income Gap Wider As Irregular Workers Rise: Labor Ministry

Japan’s income gap is widening as companies are hiring more irregular workers, the Labor Ministry said Tuesday in its fiscal 2010 report on the country’s labor market.

The ministry noted that companies were prompted to hire more irregular workers in light of eased regulations on labor dispatch service.

The number of workers earning an annual salary of 1-2.5 million yen was in particular on the increase over the decade through 2007, according to the ministry’s latest White Paper on the Labour Economy.

In the 2000s, the ratio of irregular workers, including those dispatched from manpower agencies, grew at a faster clip, with the ratio now accounting for more than 30% of the country’s overall labor force.

This is mainly attributed to the fact that “Major firms, hoping to curtail personnel costs, expanded the hiring of irregular workers over those on a regular payroll,” the white paper says.

The ministry suggested in the paper that it is imperative for employers to turn irregular workers into permanent employees, so employers can provide higher wages and ensure stable job conditions.

Meanwhile, the number of those fresh from university and college having difficulty finding a job has also increased lately, with hiring appetite souring at firms.

“It is necessary for companies seeking sustainable management to make viable recruitment plans without being affected by short-term economic trends,” the ministry said in the paper.