The proportion of female employees stood at only 26.2 percent in 1950, but in 1990 it had shot up to 75.4 percent. The number of female employees grew from 4.67 million in 1953 to 20.34 million in 1994, 4.4 times the 1953 figure, far exceeding 2.7 times growth of male employees. By job type, women employees also showed large growth; female clerical staffs increased from 29.4 percent of the total in 1950 to 59 percent in 1990; women in professional and technological jobs grew from 30.5 percent to 42.4 percent; and those in managerial jobs jumped from 1.3 percent to 9.2 percent.
The percentage of households where the wife is exclusively engaged in housekeeping in all employees' households was 55.3 percent in a 1985 poll. In 1990, however, the percentage of double-income families at 49.1 percent actually exceeded that of families with full-time housewives at 48.5 percent. Women who do not favor the traditional belief that "men should work outside the home and, women inside" surged from 34.2 percent in 1979 to 53.9 percent in 1995. But according to a 1990 survey on the roles played by both sexes in two-career households, 38.7 percent of women and 46.7 percent of men answered that "women should play a greater role in housekeeping and childbearing and men should only help them." Furthermore, a 1990 poll on daily working hours by gender showed that the average female employee worked 9 hours and 52 minutes, allocating 5 hours and 33 minutes to work outside the home and 3 hours and 37 minutes to domestic duties - including the time spent on commuting. On the other hand, their male counterpart works 7 hours and 18 minutes, but spent only 35 minutes a day on home duties. Including commuting time men work 8 hours and 57 minutes, and they have 40 more minutes of free time than women do. The new concept of the roles played by both sexes-"men work, and women work as well as stay at home and do the washing"- has been established, the annual report concludes.
Major changes have been taking place also in marriage and childbirth, the government report says. The average age at which women marry for the first time stood at 26.2 years in 1994, up from 22.9 in 1947, according to the report. The average age at which women have the first child was 24.4 in 1950, versus 27.4 in 1994. The report for the first time uses the wording that "women want to have children later in life." "The traditional view of a proper age for marriage is disappearing," it adds.
The diffusion index (number of respondents saying business conditions are improving minus the numbers stating that conditions are deteriorating) for major manufacturers improved to minus 18, up 4 points from the previous level. Among the bright spots in the economy were as follows. In manufacturing, the paper and pulp industry, showed strong recovery in profits, aluminum and other non-steel materials are enjoying brisk demand due to strength in electronics and the textiles industry which is witnessing recovery in demand for apparels. In non-manufacturing, meanwhile, the construction sector showed strong improvement as a result of increasing demand for public works projects and housing investment.
Ordinary profits for 1995 in manufacturing are expected to rise 31.1 percent from a year earlier. They will also grow 11.3 percent in 1996, and BOJ foresees two-digit profits for the next three years running. Major firms expect plant and equipment investment in 1995 to increase by 3.8 percent, the first such rise in 4 years. "Monetary and fiscal policies are bringing brighter prospects for the economy. We will continue closely watching whether growth in plant and equipment investment will further prompt the trend toward economic recovery in the months to come," the BOJ official noted.
Employment trends in January were not necessarily positive, however. The ratio of job offers to job seekers rose to 0.67, or 67 job openings for every 100 applicants, a meager 0.03 point improvement from the previous month, and the nation's jobless rate stayed at a record 3.4 percent for the third straight month.
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