According to the 2011 General Survey on Part-Time Workers conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare (MHLW), as of June 1, 2011, the ratio of nonregular workers (workers other than regular full-time company employees) in the workforce stood at 34.4%, compared with 30.9% in the previous survey in 2006, and of them, the ratio of part-time workers was 27.0% (25.7% in the last survey). In other words, the survey revealed that both the ratio of nonregular workers and the ratio of part-time workers have increased since 2006.
By gender, male workers other than regular company employees accounted for 20.3% of the total (15.7% in the last survey), and of them, part-time workers accounted for 13.8% (11.4% in the last survey). Female workers other than regular company employees accounted for 54.4% of the total (52.5% in the last survey), and of them, part-time workers accounted for 45.9% (46.2% in the last survey). So while the ratio of nonregular workers is increasing for both men and women, more than one in two women is working in a nonregular position.
The wages of nonregular workers tend to be lower than those of regular workers. According to the National Tax Agency, in 2010 the number of private-sector workers with an annual income of less than 2 million yen was 10.45 million persons, representing 23.0% of the total workforce.
In July 2011 RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) conducted an online questionnaire survey of the so-called working poor (people with an annual income of less than 2 million yen), which revealed the harsh lives of these low-income earners. According to the survey results, 79.6% of the respondents said their work was "hard," 63.5% that "I have no hope for the future," and 60% that "I have experienced the feeling of being working poor."