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Japan’s part-time restaurant workers earn their highest wages ever

As the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, part-time restaurant staff and servers in Japan are receiving the highest wages ever paid to them. The Japanese government imposed restrictions to contain the COVID-19 outbreak for nearly six months before lifting them last month. Restaurants can now serve alcohol and stay open later, but operators say staffing issues are a problem.

As reported by the Nikkei, a newly opened Tokyo pub offered new hires 1,100 yen ($9.60) an hour when it first opened but was forced to raise its rate. ‘At first we tried 1,041 yen ($9.10), but we raised it after finding out that other businesses were offering 1,050 yen ($9.20),’ said a representative from restaurant group Natty Swanky, per the Nikkei.

Part-time food service workers in the major cities of Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya earned an average of 1,050 Japanese yen ($9.20) an hour last month, according to Recruit Holdings. Restaurant owners are also trying out other perks to attract workers. The Japanese newspaper reports that Sanko Marketing Foods is paying bonuses of 10,000 yen to 20,000 yen ($87.60 to $175) to former part-time workers who return to work or who refer friends.

The Nikkei reported that at least one pub has to suspend its late-night operations at some locations until they can find more help. Japan was already facing a labor shortage before the pandemic because of the rapidly aging population and the large number of women who from cultural expectations leave their jobs after marriage. The service staff shortage has now been made worse by a shift in the labor force, as job losses during the pandemic have forced some restaurant and hotel workers to switch industries.

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The nursing home industry has managed to benefit from this trend, even though wages are not very competitive, Reuters reported last month. ‘Nursing-care wages are low, but many job seekers seek stability after seeing the damage devoured by restaurants and other service providers,’ said Takayuki Nakayama, the chief executive of Crie, a company offering training in nursing care.


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