Under-employment to drive the West's wages and policy

Wednesday, July 10, 2019


The impact of working less hours on policy.


Part-time work is increasing across the advanced economies, including those working part time but wanting full-time work. Initially this seemed to be a distinctly Japanese problem, but it is now being recognised as a more widespread source of stagnant wages, blue-collar despair and populist politics.


  • Weak demand since 2008 has allowed more firms to offer fewer hours to desperate job seekers, giving the under-employment trend momentum.
  • Japan has changed its labour laws and broken down norms attached to the content of a job since the 1990s; other countries will follow.
  • Convenience and lower wages drive firms to include under-employed workers in their workforce; only a tighter job market will end this.
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