Women set to overtake men in US workplace. What about Japan?

Amazing news from the New York Times:

With the recession on the brink of becoming the longest in the postwar era, a milestone may be at hand: Women are poised to surpass men on the nation’s payrolls, taking the majority for the first time in American history.

The reason has less to do with gender equality than with where the ax is falling.

The proportion of women who are working has changed very little since the recession started. But a full 82 percent of the job losses have befallen men, who are heavily represented in distressed industries like manufacturing and construction. Women tend to be employed in areas like education and health care, which are less sensitive to economic ups and downs, and in jobs that allow more time for child care and other domestic work.

As of November, women held 49.1 percent of the nation’s jobs, according to nonfarm payroll data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By another measure, including farm workers and the self-employed, women constituted 47.1 percent of the work force.

With that in mind, I wondered what the figures were for Japan. As it turns out, they are released monthly by Japan’s statistics bureau. The figures (PDF) include farm workers and the self-employed.

As of December 2008, of Japan’s 63.31 million workers, 36.92 million, or 58.3%, are men, and 26.39 million, or 41.7% women. Not even close!

28 thoughts on “Women set to overtake men in US workplace. What about Japan?”

  1. Nothing to do with the topic, but I just saw a TV report that Krispy Kreme (which I think actually gets talked about more than the LDP here, and for good reason) is not expected to survive the year.

  2. What was the logic for that? The locations that exist so far are doing fantastic business by all appearances.

  3. Expanded too fast, too much debt, falling sales (just like the problem that hit Starbucks, sparking their layoffs and closings). They LOOK like they do fantastic business, but those donuts don’t sell for much.

    In any case, this is the US we are talking about, it could always become another “Mister Donut” in Japan.

  4. Well the LDP at least will probably survive more than a year.

    I think KK spent TONS on its initial promotion strategy, so if they aren’t opening more stores and bringing in revenue soon, they might be facing tough times…


    In 2007, 53% of female workers were non-seiki, vs. just 17.9% of male workers. I would expect an even bigger disparity between foreign nationals and Japanese.

  5. Ohh, in the US..

    Here’s what one local news site says:

    Krispy Kreme. (KKD; about 4,000 employees; stock down 50%). The donuts might be good, but Krispy Kreme overestimated Americans’ appetite – and that’s saying something. This chain overexpanded during the donut heyday of the 1990s – taking on a lot of debt – and now requires high volumes to meet expenses and interest payments. The company has cut costs and closed underperforming stores, but still hasn’t earned an operating profit in three years. And now that consumers are cutting back on everything, such improvements may fail to offset top-line declines, leading Krispy Kreme to seek some kind of relief from lenders over the next year.

  6. I can’t see KK actually shutting down. Even if the company is heavily in the red, I’m sure a significant portion is still plenty profitable and will be bought out in bankruptcy or something.

  7. “Well the LDP at least will probably survive more than a year.”


    2009 is a watershed. The LDP may break up and someone actually went broke overestimating Ameican appeitite.

    “I’m sure a significant portion is still plenty profitable and will be bought out in bankruptcy or something.”

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see KK remain as a flavor at Dunkin Dounts.

  8. I’d suggest placing bets on whether LDP or KK will last longer, but KK is already significantly older (founded in the ’30s) AND probably has more years left in it.

  9. Women may not make more than men in Japan, but I wonder with all of the recent earnings announcements, whether it is safe to say that they lose less.

    Ignoring, of course, countless “Mrs. Watanabe’s” and the recent plight of this housewife:

    Article says that her husband was actually the bookrunner…no pun intended.

  10. I don’t know if “plight” is the correct term; when you are running a ponzi scheme, it is called getting busted!

    OK, Roy, I am laying down a wager right now. let me know if you agree to the terms:

    – I am betting the LDP will last at least one year from the time you respond yes or no to this offer, AND that if either of LDP or KK goes bust within that year then KK will be first
    – You are betting that KK will last at least one year, AND that if either of LDP or KK goes bust within that year then the LDP will be first
    – If neither go bust within the year period, the entire wager is null and void.
    – If there is significant reorganization in either LDP or KK, the conditions for survival will be a) the name of the organization survives within Japan (or a very closely derivative name (“Shin-jiminto” would count as survival, just as “Krispy Kreme-Subway” would also count); and b) the organization continues to offer roughly the same product (ie. the LDP only has to remain a political party, but could offer different policies or even have zero seats in the national Diet; Krispy Kreme must still be selling donuts in Japan)

    The prize: one box of delicious Krispy Kreme donuts (assortment chosen by the winner), or baked goods of comparable deliciousness.

    Are we on or are we on?

  11. Sure, I’ll take that wager. If both the LDP and KK fail, does that mean we have to fly to the nearest country with a Dunkin Donuts and pig out?

  12. * the LDP only has to remain a political party, but could…even have zero seats in the national Diet*

    Wait, so that means if all else fails for the LDP, I could set up my own Jun-Jinminto (Pure Liberal Democratic Party, of course, so it would be a nationalist-conservative offering) within the next year and Adamu wins the bet?

    Gentlemen, start the bidding. The buy-it-now price for my services: three donuts.

    Going back to Adamu’s original point, I’ll wager that we’ll be seeing a larger fall percentagewise in the female workforce for 2008 and 2009. Temps and part-timers are the first to go, and I believe that they are disproportionately female.

  13. But temps and part-timers who are losing jobs are mostly working at the factories and are mostly male workforce,or so they are here in Aichi.
    You can also say the same about construction workers which are 99.999% male.

    Female workforce working as part-timers and temps are working in retail-chains and they are relatively fine there and those who are working in small factories can still work under the minimum wages because they are not the only one who bring the cash to the house hold,which is not the case for many single men.

  14. Yeah, Jun has a point. If they don’t have any seats they shouldn’t count. Just like if KK exists as a corporate entity, but has no remaining stores.

  15. Great point, Aceface. You prompted me to dig through Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW—which no doubt reminds you that MOF could now properly call itself the Ministry of Investment, Lending and Finance) statistics on the continuously employed (including part-time) workers and did indeed find that the construction workforce fared relatively poorly while the retail/wholesale workforce appeared to have made a significant qualitative improvement. But women are disproportionately represented in the temp and part-time categories overall and presumably among office temps and ion assembly lines in the lighter manufacturing industries. The 2008-on-2007 results should be available later this month. In the meantime, the latest numbers available—year-on-year November figures—that I found in the Excel data on this MHLW page (http://www.e-stat.go.jp/SG1/estat/GL08020101.do?_toGL08020101_&tstatCode=000001011791)are the following:

    2007 Nov.
    total 44,271,648; 32,713,362; 11,558,287
    male 25,408,500; 22,417,184; 2,991,316
    female 18,863,148; 10,296,178; 8,566,970

    2008 Nov.
    total 45,174,005; 11,928,507
    male 25,933,905 (+2.07%); 22,798,030 (1.7%); 3,135,875 (4.8%)
    female 19,240,100 (2.0%) ; 10,447,468 (1.5%); 8,792,632 (2.6%)
    Percentages indicate year-on-year growth in employment.

    These indicate that the workforce grew in 2008, particularly among men. However, they are incomplete figures in that they do not include day labor (thus presumably under-representing the construction workforce) and most arubaito (likewise retail and eateries).

    Regarding Roy’s latest comment, what if KK survives as a store-less brand that supplies supermarkets, combini, or other retail outlets? More to the point, what if the LDP survives in the prefectures and municipalities, as a gaggle of governors and assemblymen? In any case, I think Adamu pulled a fast one on you with that one. But a gentleman’s word is his bond. And I think I can help you there. Donuts, please

  16. I’m curently working on assignement on unemployed Brazillians here in Nagoya area.And through the research,I found out part of the reason you see so many married Brazillian couple breaking up is because there are(or should I say were)opportunity for women here in Japan.I thought it was odd at first,then I realized there are jobs in the auto factories and the wages in many Toyota-related company has gender equalization in wages which are usually 1400 yen an hour.
    Acoording to my informants,this is unthinkable in Brazil where unemployment has been high and there were little job being offered to women in the 30’s.So,when a married couple come to Japan and start working,it is usually the wife asking for divorce for she is now financially independent.And ofcourse there are many single Brazillian men around them.You don’t have to worry about new soul-mate…..

    But again,this is now a bygone tale and also has little to do with feminism or probe women’s status in Japan…….

  17. Re: Krispy Kreme

    If Krispy Kreme goes into liquidation then Lotte will be the likely interested party since KK’s Japan operations are a joint venture between Revamp, Lotte & Takeo Shigemitsu. Lotte also runs KK shops in South Korea. They could work out a sales & trademark deal with the administrator or even think about buying the whole show as Ito Yokado, now Seven & I Holdings, did with Southland.

    I can’t recall if Mutant Frog also mentioned the possible entry of Sbarro to Japan but they are also on the list of potential corporate casualties.

  18. I’ve never even heard of Southland. What do they do? Anyway, KK sold in 7/11 would be pretty lame. Their donuts are awesome when fresh, but pretty mediocre once they cool down. Adam did post about Sbarro a couple of weeks ago. Might they fail before they even (re)-open? Come on people, I just want a store that makes a meatball sub.

  19. “I’ve never even heard of Southland.”

    How the mighty have fallen. Southland was the company which started 7-11 in the US. They let Ito Yokado run the Japan franchise and, when Southland itself fell into difficulties, Ito Yokado decided to buy it, partly to protect the 7-11 name.

  20. Ohhh ok. I know the story, I just assumed the company was always called 7/11. BTW, what could they possibly be thinking replacing the 7/11 brand with “7 holdings” or whatever. What a dumbass dilution of one of the world’s best trademarks.

  21. “BTW, what could they possibly be thinking replacing the 7/11 brand with ‘7 & I holdings’ or whatever. What a dumbass dilution of one of the world’s best trademarks.”

    That isn’t what they have done. Just as you said that you never knew that the company running 7-11 stores in the US was called Southland, surely it doesn’t matter to you that the ultimate holding company for 7-11 is called 7 & I Holdings. There is still a subsidiary of the main holding company called Seven-Eleven Japan and the old Southland business is run as a subsidiary called 7-Eleven Inc. Japanese law didn’t allow holding company structures until 1998 because of the legacy of zaibatsu. All Ito Yokado did was adopt that structure when it was possible and fold all their businesses into it.

  22. No, they’ve been replacing the signs on quite a few of their stores with ones that say “7&I Holdings” instead of “7/11”. It’s very odd.

  23. Numbers for 2008 aren’t out yet, but if I remember correctly, the average wage for female workers in Japan increased 1.2% in 2007 while the average wage for males fell 0.3%. Of course, there is still quite a gap between men’s and women’s average wages.

    The average salaried worker brought home 301,100 yen per month while the average contract/temp worker earned 192,900 yen in 2007. The average contract worker thus earned 36% less than the salaried worker.

  24. Re: 7-11

    They aren’t changing the name of the 7-11 stores, they are adding 7 & I Holding branding because the stores are selling other group company products. Specifically, financial services through Seven Bank (セブン銀行), which used to be known as IY Bank. The bank is a subsidiary of 7 & I Holdings, not Seven Eleven Japan, so it needs to be identified separately. There have been problems with companies sending out mailshots purporting to be from 7 & I Holdings financial companies when they are not. Looking at the list of shady firms flagged by the FSA, it’s not surprising there’s some confusion. None of the following are part of 7 & I Holdings:

    セブン&I フィナンシャルセンター

  25. Re: Women in the workforce

    There’s a piece in the Daily Yomiuri today:


    Recently, there have been news reports almost daily about nonregular workers of all ages who have lost their jobs and accommodation, and the adversities they face. Nearly all the individuals reported on by the media in connection with such termination practices — for example, the practice of temp axing, or termination of temporary job contracts — have been men…However, this does not mean that rapidly deepening economic woes do not affect women.

    When I asked about the effect of the economic situation on women, Mami Nakano, an attorney who serves as director general of the Temporary Workers’ Network, a nonprofit organization helping temps, told me about the findings of temp-axing telephone counseling services…The union ran a two-day phone consultation service at the end of November and received inquiries from 472 people, 142 of whom were women, according to the consultation service’s findings.

    ..Why did few women stay in the tent village in Hibiya Park? Perhaps it was because many women would have felt awkward sleeping in a tent in the park close to many strangers constantly coming and going. However, it seems there is more to it than that…Nakano noted that when women lose their jobs they usually have somewhere to go. For example, some stay with their parents, with brothers and sisters, or with friends. When men lose their jobs, they often find themselves cut off from the world. “From talking to jobless men and women, I get the impression that women usually have a place to stay while men end up cut off,” Nakano added.

    …When asked about the intense media coverage of the tent village in Hibiya Park, a longtime women’s rights activist said, “The news reports are absurd because they are making a fuss about a situation that isn’t new.” She was referring to the history of unfair treatment of women at the workplace. Her frustration likely stems from the fact that the media are now making a fuss because men now must deal with harsh treatment by their employers.

  26. “The news reports are absurd because they are making a fuss about a situation that isn’t new.”

    Ahhh.but we are making a big deal about this precisely because there are history behind dissident activists and Hibiya park…

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