The problem of nonregular employment is a common issue faced by not only developed countries but also developing nations. In Japan as well, the number of nonregular staff and nonregular workers is continuing to grow, according to the results of the 2012 Comprehensive Survey of Living Conditions announced on July 4 by the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare.
By gender, the ratio of nonregular workers is increasing for both men and women. In the case of women, the ratio rose from 57.3% in the previous year to 58.3% in 2012. Similarly, the ratio for men increased from 20.7% to 22.5%. The characteristic here is that the nonregular ratio is much higher for women than men.
By age group, in the case of men the nonregular ratio is high for the young generation aged 29 years or under and the postretirement generation aged 60 years or over. In contrast, in the case of women the nonregular ratio is high for all age groups.
For men, the nonregular ratio is 40.9% for the 20-24 age group. It then declines with age, dropping to single digits of 9.3% and 8.7% for the 35-39 and 40-44 age groups, respectively, before jumping again to 57.5% for the 60-64 postretirement age group. For women, the nonregular ratio is 46.9% for the 20-24 age group, which is not much different from the ratio for men of that age group. However, at the lowest ratio of 28.5% for the total of both men and women for the 25-29 age group, the ratio for women is still 37.6%, and then it climbs to 53.5% for the 35-39 age group, 61.0% for the 40-44 age group, and 80.7% for the 60-64 age group.
Since the problem of nonregular work is especially conspicuous among women and young people, employment measures are certainly necessary to assist these segments of society, but measures taking account of other age groups and specific regions are important as well.
Component Ratios of Employees Aged 15 Years or Over by Gender and Age Group
Differences in Regular and Nonregular Income
(The following should be seen only as reference data. An accurate comparison of the earned income* of regular and nonregular workers is not possible from this survey, since it shows average earned income only and does not take into consideration such factors as nature of job, working hours, age, and number of years of employment.)
In 2011, for men, the average annual earned income was 4,785,000 yen for regular workers and 1,751,000 yen for nonregular workers. For women, the average annual earned income was 3,044,000 yen for regular workers and 1,025,000 yen for nonregular workers. Compared with the previous year, these figures represented a decrease of 14,000 yen for male regular workers, a decrease of 87,000 yen for male nonregular workers, an increase of 147,000 yen for female regular workers, and a decrease of 1,000 yen for female nonregular workers.
The level of earned income for female nonregular workers is close to the level of 1 million yen a year, which is the upper limit on nontaxable income in Japan. In other words, annual income of less than 1 million yen is not subject to taxation. At the same time, if the woman is married, up to that income level she is still treated as a dependent, so the tax burden on her spouse is eased as well. For this reason, many married women actually opt for nonregular part-time work to keep their annual income under the 1 million yen level. This is one factor that should be taken into consideration when seeking to close the wage gap between men and women and between regular and nonregular workers.
*In the Comprehensive Survey of Living Conditions, "earned income" refers to employment income, business income, agricultural and livestock farming income, and work-at-home income and is differentiated from other income, such as the public pension and social security benefits.
Average Earned Income per Employee Aged 15 Years or Over by Gender