The number of part-time workers between 15 and 34 years old stood at an estimated 1.51 million in 1997, an increase of 500,000 from five years earlier, the Labor Ministry said in an annual report on labor released Tuesday.

The ministry ascribed the sharp increase mainly to a growing loss of work incentives among young people and difficulties faced in finding regular employment, because about two-thirds of them wanted a full-time job but were unable to obtain one.

Shedding light on the situation that has made it hard for young people to find full-time work, the report proposes educating young people on how to choose a job when they step into the employment market.

It also calls for creation of a manpower development system that would help them secure full-time employment.

The report is the first by the Labor Ministry to scrutinize the situation surrounding young people who don’t pursue full-time work or higher education.

Of the 1997 total, women outnumbered men by 900,000 to 610,000.

Those in their early 20s accounted for the largest portion of part-timers. Above that age, the number of part-timers in each age category decreased in line with seniority, the report shows.

But the report points to an increasing trend among people in their late 20s or older to remain in part-time work.

High school graduates accounted for nearly 40 percent of the total, followed by university graduates and graduate school graduates with nearly 20 percent and vocational school graduates with about 10 percent.

More than 60 percent of the total worked in the service industry, such as at convenience stores, and about 80 percent lived with parents.

The average annual income was an estimated 1.51 million yen for male workers.