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Japan – Recovery lifting demand for temporary workers

02 December 2013

Brisk demand in the Japanese automotive and construction industries is pushing these companies to take on more temporary employees, reports Nikkei. Four major carmakers are increasing their number of temporary staff by approximately +40% compared with April 2013.

Toyota boosted temporary staff numbers at its factories by +60% over this period to 4,000. Although this figure is far from its June 2005 peak of 11,600, it is one of the highest levels since the 2008 financial crisis. Rising exports and a surge in demand ahead of April's consumption tax hike have brought in greater new car orders than expected.

Nissan had doubled its temporary workforce to 2,000 by the end of July. Subaru maker Fuji Heavy Industries intends to add +10% more temporary workers at a major factory in Gunma Prefecture by next Spring. And Mazda has boosted its temporary workfoce by +30% and plans to offer a bonus of 150,000 yen (USD 1,450) to incoming temporary workers.

The construction industry is also seeing heavy demand. Data from the labour ministry showed 99,000 job offers in construction and mining in October, a +10% increase compared with last year. With recovery from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami going strong and condominium sales brisk, construction sites are facing a labour shortage.

Joban Kaihatsu, an administrator for a construction and civil engineering firm in the Fukushima Prefecture: "We have too few workers to fully handle our orders."

According to manufacturing recruitment agency Staff Service, the number of workers dispatched to construction-materials-related businesses between August and October jumped +20% compared with last year.

Salary is also on a clear upward trend, as companies compete to secure enough staff. The average hourly wage for auto-related factory workers rose by +3.6% on the year to JPY 1,155 (USD 11.27) in October, according to employment website I am & Interworks.

A survey by Management Research Society for Construction Industry indicates that average July-September labour costs for light workers at Tokyo area construction sites have risen by +6.3% since 2010.

The impact of the coming sales tax hike on new car demand remain uncertain, but labour shortages may continue if exports keep growing. And while the special pre-tax-hike demand for construction has run its course, the need for new condominiums and offices will remain steady.

"We're nowhere near resolving the shortage of skilled on-site workers," says Takashi Yamauchi, president of construction company, Taisei.

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