The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare on February 20 announced the 2013 results of its Basic Statistical Survey on the Wage Structure, which investigates wages as of June every year. The 2013 survey results revealed that for the first time since 1976, the year from which comparisons became possible, wages declined from the previous year for both men and women.
The average monthly wage for both genders was 295,700 yen (42 years of age, 11.9 years of employment), down 0.7% from the previous year and the first decrease in four years. By gender, the average monthly wage was 326,000 yen for men (42.8 years of age, 13.3 years of employment), down 0.9% from the previous year, and 232,600 yen for women (40.4 years of age, 9.1 years of employment), down 0.2% from the previous year.
By company size, the average monthly wage for regular employees (men and women) was 372,300 yen in large companies, 300,800 yen in medium-sized companies, and 272,100 yen in small companies. If the average wage in large companies is taken as 100, the figures for medium-sized and small companies were 81 and 73, respectively.
For nonregular workers (men and women) by company size, the average monthly wage was 204,600 yen in large companies, 190,700 yen in medium-sized companies, and 190,300 yen in small companies. If the average wage for regular workers in each company size is taken as 100, the figures for nonregular workers were 55 in large companies, 63 in medium-sized companies, and 70 in small companies, which shows that a large wage gap exists between regular and nonregular workers.
Meanwhile, the average hourly wage of short-time temporary and contract workers in 2013 was 1,095 yen for men, up 1 yen, or 0.1%, over the previous year, and 1,007 yen for women, up 6 yen, or 0.6%, over the previous year. These were the highest-ever figures in both cases, but the highest by age group was 1,237 yen for men aged 60-64 years who were continuing to work after mandatory retirement. It is likely that the figure for this demographic group served to push up the level for short-time workers as a whole.
The survey results show that the economic policies of the current administration, dubbed "Abenomics," are not contributing toward improving the livelihood of working people.
In the 2014 spring labour offensive (Spring Struggle for the Betterment of Livelihood), RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) is urging a monthly wage hike in the range of 3%-4%, correction of the wage gap between large companies and small and medium-sized enterprises, and improvement of the working conditions of all working people, including short-time working workers like part-time workers and other nonregular workers.
Unusually, the government also has called on business circles to implement wage hikes in order to expand consumption through better distribution to workers and create a positive economic cycle, thereby achieving the success of Abenomics. Even if they do not totally snub the government's request, however, employers appear to be taking a negative attitude toward increasing the basic monthly wage and are likely to evade such a raise by increasing bonuses instead, which means that the hike would not be lasting. In response to this attitude on the management side, RENGO is encouraging unions to demand monthly wage hikes rather than bonus hikes in negotiations and to be prepared to implement their right to strike and other tactics in order to gain favorable settlements.