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71% of Japanese firms short of workers: survey

Some 71 percent of Japanese companies say they are short of workers, according to the results of a Ministry of Finance survey released on Jan. 31.

The poll was conducted from late November last year to mid-January, primarily through the ministry's 11 regional finance bureaus across Japan, and received responses from 1,341 companies ranging from large enterprises to medium and small businesses. Overall, the survey responses highlighted the growing impact of Japan's low birth rate, and the difficulty companies are having in getting and keeping sufficient numbers of employees.

Fifty-nine percent of the firms surveyed stated that "the hiring process is not progressing" as the most common reason for being short-staffed, while 52.1 percent said that they felt the labor shortage had worsened since the last survey in October 2016.

Some 57.4 percent of the companies said the shortage had caused increases in their employees' workload, such as through overtime and working on days off. However, only 18.6 percent of respondents said the lack of personnel had caused costs to rise, suggesting firms are shifting the impact of the problem onto workers.

To deal with the shortage, many of the companies stated that they were boosting hiring activities, and investing in measures to save labor and increase efficiency. When asked exactly what they were doing to attract workers, a lot of firms mentioned holding briefing sessions for potential employees. However, very few respondents said they were moving to hire more women and elderly people.

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