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Many employers simply feel they have too many workers, a government survey showed Wednesday.

The diffusion index gauging employer sentiment regarding their regular-payroll workforce worsened to minus 6 in February from minus 5 in November, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said.

The figure marked the first quarterly deterioration in the DI since February last year, when it hit minus 15.

The DI is arrived at by subtracting the percentage of employers who say they are overstaffed from that of employers who say they face a shortage.

The ministry compiles the DI on a quarterly basis and by querying 5,358 randomly selected offices, shops and factories that have at least 30 employees. The latest poll had a 58 percent response rate.

By industry, most real estate firms said they were feeling a labor shortage, a turnaround from their reported overabundance of workers in November.

The DI improved for finance and insurance companies, though the figure was still in the minus column. Wholesalers, retailers and restaurants also felt that though still overstaffed, they were so to a lesser degree.

Twenty-three percent of respondents said they limited overtime or took other measures to adjust their payroll during the October-December period, down 2 percentage points from the previous quarter, the February poll found.

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