Tochigi is a Hole for Men, Wakayama for Women” Where is the Best Place to Work… A Survey of Wage Statistics by Prefecture Reveals | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Tochigi is a Hole for Men, Wakayama for Women” Where is the Best Place to Work… A Survey of Wage Statistics by Prefecture Reveals

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Nagano, Hokkaido, and Okinawa are popular among remote workers…

Many people in the Tokyo metropolitan area, the Chubu area, and the large cities of Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe are pressed for time and lead a rushed lifestyle. There may be people who want to work at a pace that suits them and live a full life. If you live and work in close proximity in a regional city, you may be able to enjoy such a lifestyle. It is also nice that in rural areas, fresh local foods such as agricultural products and seafood are easily available at reasonable prices.

On the other hand, there are people who long to live in the countryside with its rich natural environment and make a living by farming or by selling goods and services at restaurants and stores that use local products. Although it is now possible to do a variety of work remotely via the Internet, there are still many people who are content to live in the countryside and earn just enough to get by. Nagano, Hokkaido, and Okinawa are popular destinations for such people.

Tochigi Prefecture, however, ranked 39th in the Prefectural Attractiveness Ranking 2023… Photo: Tochigi’s star, U-jikken (PHOTO: Kyodo News)

Prefectures with high salaries…Tochigi Prefecture is a “hole in the wall” earning as much as a big city.

Even if living in the countryside in the great outdoors is difficult, a life of employment and work in a local city may be an option for some. What is of interest is how much wages are earned in rural employment.

Here are some data on actual wages earned by employers by prefecture.

The monthly wages, including basic salary and benefits, exceeded the national average of 346,700 yen for men and women in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Osaka, Aichi, Tochigi, Hyogo, and Saitama prefectures, in that order. Not in the Tokyo metropolitan area, the Chubu area, or Keihanshin was the fifth, Tochigi Prefecture, with a wage of 355,400 yen.

This data is from the Basic Survey on Wage Structure (2011), published by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, and is based on “fixed cash wages. This is not take-home pay, but the amount before income tax, social insurance premiums, etc. are deducted. In addition to base salary, it includes job allowance, full-time attendance allowance, commuting allowance, family allowance, and overtime pay.

In addition to this cash salary, data on annual bonuses are also available.

Compared to the national average (men and women) of 909,000 yen, only Tokyo, Kanagawa, Osaka, Aichi, and Tochigi prefectures exceed 1 million yen. Of these, Tochigi Prefecture’s 1,087,300 yen is second only to Kanagawa Prefecture’s 1,102,200 yen and ahead of Tokyo’s 1,043,300 yen, among others.

The national average for men is 385,400 yen. From the Basic Survey on Wage Structure (2011) (Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare)
Unit: thousands of yen] From the Basic Survey on Wage Structure (2011) (Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare)

What kind of place is Tochigi Prefecture? A person in charge of the Labor Policy Division of the prefecture says, “Tochigi Prefecture is just one bullet train ride away from Tokyo.

Tochigi Prefecture is connected to Tokyo by a single Shinkansen bullet train and has good transportation access, making it one of the most convenient prefectures in the Kanto region. No one wants to sever ties with Tokyo, so we want to make it possible for people to go to Tokyo. It is different from a completely rural area.

According to Tochigi Prefecture’s “Characteristics and Challenges of Industry in Tochigi Prefecture,” the area is 60-160 km from Tokyo, relatively flat, and blessed with land and water resources. According to the list of major companies locating in Tochigi, major domestic and foreign companies in the transportation machinery, medical equipment and pharmaceuticals, and food and beverage industries have established their bases in the prefecture. According to the prefectural government’s “Guide to Locating Businesses,” Tochigi Prefecture is a “manufacturing prefecture” where the manufacturing industry drives the economy, ranking second in Japan with 41.2% of the total manufacturing industry, and a well-balanced concentration of various industries.

Although Tochigi Prefecture is a rural area, it seems to be blessed with employment opportunities similar to those in large cities.

Women’s “small wage gap” with men is Kochi…

Women, on the other hand, are concerned about the wage gap with men.

The Basic Survey on Wage Structure (’23), “fixed cash wages paid,” also publishes data by gender. The national average of cash salaries for women relative to men is 72.8%, with women remaining at a lower level. The prefectures with the highest percentages and smallest wage disparities are, in order, Kochi (79.4%), Akita (77.5%), and Nagasaki (77.3%). Conversely, Tochigi Prefecture had the lowest rate at 68.4%.

A complicating factor when looking at cash salaries for women is the shorter length of service compared to men. The national average is 13.8 years for men and 9.9 years for women. While there is some variation by prefecture, the average for women is around 10 years. Inevitably, the cash salary of women with shorter years of service is lower than that of men.

An official at the Equal Employment Policy Division of the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (MHLW) pointed out that men hold more managerial positions and have more years of service, and this difference in wages is believed to be the result of this. He also noted, “Women are less likely to be promoted to managerial positions and above.

The promotion rate of women to managerial positions and above is low, and the number of women in middle-aged and older age groups is thin because many women quit due to pregnancy and childbirth.

While keeping these problems specific to women in mind, a look at cash salaries for women by prefecture shows that Tokyo, Kanagawa, Osaka, Kyoto, Saitama, and Hyogo prefectures, in order, exceed the national average of 280,700 yen, all in the Tokyo metropolitan area and Keihanshin (Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe). Next are Nara, Aichi, Chiba, Wakayama, and Tochigi prefectures.

For women, Tochigi Prefecture has a relatively high wage of 270,700 yen, while Nara Prefecture’s 278,700 yen and Wakayama Prefecture’s 274,600 yen are on the higher side, with a relatively small wage gap between men and women. Everywhere, the length of service for women is around 10 years.

The national average for women is 280,700 yen. From the Basic Survey on Wage Structure (2011) (Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare).
The average for women is 287,000 yen, and the average for men is 287,000 yen.

Women are also considering Wakayama, and the reason is…

In addition to Tochigi Prefecture, Nara and Wakayama prefectures may be attractive to women as places to work .

In addition to wages, bonuses in Wakayama Prefecture exceed the national average of 628,100 yen, at 644,700 yen. Nara and Tochigi prefectures are 569,900 yen and 597,800 yen, respectively.

What kind of place is Wakayama Prefecture? According to “Wakayama Life,” the prefectural government’s immigration support website, the average annual temperature is a mild 17.5 degrees Celsius, and the hours of sunlight are longer than the national average. Commuting time to work is shorter in Wakayama at 22 minutes compared to 44 minutes in Tokyo, 36 minutes in Osaka, and 28 minutes nationwide, according to Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications statistics. Rents and land are inexpensive, and the percentage of homeowners is high, making it possible to live comfortably in one’s own home and enjoying a low cost of living.

Regarding the prefecture’s industries, Wakayama Prefecture has a very high ratio of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and traditional local industries such as the knit industry, which includes textiles, pile fabrics, and daily household goods, are thriving. It also has a high proportion of steel, petroleum, and chemical manufacturing industries.

The recent high cost of living has made life difficult, and a higher wage level would be appreciated. It may be a good idea to compare wage levels in the region and consider the lifestyle of the people.

  • Interview and text by Hideki Asai

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