Japanese firms raise wages to combat the labor shortage

According to a Reuters poll, more Japanese companies are increasing wages to attract workers, and to deal with chronic staff shortages. This is a tentative indication that Japan Inc is slowly addressing the decades-old problem of stagnant pay.

Still, the Corporate Survey found that higher wages aren’t yet the go-to tactic for companies, with digitalization seen as the most popular among the multiple measures firms say they are using to address the labor crunch.

Japanese companies have tended to avoid raising wages due to decades of deflation making it difficult to pass higher costs on to consumers. This might be changing as the double whammy between higher commodities prices, and a weaker Japanese yen drives up living costs and highlights the strain on workers. Fumio Kishida, the Prime Minister, has also called for companies to raise wages.

“Overall we are facing labor shortages and we are struggling to lure part-timers at stores in particular. We are responding by raising wages but there’s a limit,” the manager of a wholesaler wrote in the survey, on condition of anonymity.

The survey of 495 large non-financial companies, which was conducted between Aug. 2-12, revealed a growing willingness to raise wages. 44 percent of respondents chose to increase wages or start salaries as one of the various tactics they were employing.

This is compared to only 25% of companies who said in a 2017 Corporate Survey they would raise salaries.
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