JILPT Research Report No.169
Employment of Disaster Victims in the Recovery and Reconstruction Phase:
Roles Played by the Emergency Job Creation Program from the Aspect of “Cash for Work”

December 25, 2014

Summary

Research Objective

The aim of this project research is to grasp the actual state of impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake on employment and labor in disaster-affected areas, and the policy responses taken to this, by examining and analyzing actual data from relevant records. Of the seven research groups in this project, this group focused on “Cash For Work” (CFW) as a key phrase. CFW means “providing support through compensation for labor.” This concept was devised by international aid NGOs providing support in developing countries. As well as enabling the disaster victims themselves to obtain an income by working and thereby sustain their subsistence, it is said to have secondary effects in promoting the reconstruction of disaster-affected areas, strengthening solidarity and bonds between disaster victims, and even providing psychological care.

In areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, a government fund program known as the “Emergency Job Creation Program” is being utilized for the employment of disaster victims. The total number employed under this program in FY2011-14 has reached around 100,000. The Emergency Job Creation Program was originally set up as a measure for unemployed persons at the period when the economy suffered a rapid downturn after the Lehman shock, but was expanded to include support for those who lost their jobs as a result of the disaster. As such, it coincidentally shares some ground with the concept of CFW.

In this research, we clarify the status of utilization of the Emergency Job Creation Program in disaster-affected areas by referring to case studies, and make proposals for appropriate employment support measures for victims in a major disaster that is predicted to occur in future.

Research Method

Interview survey (preliminary survey by phone or email), analysis of actual data of the Emergency Job Creation Program (FY2011)

Major Findings

(Chapter 2)

A correlation is seen between the rate of employment in fisheries and the rate of emergency job employment in disaster-affected municipalities of Miyagi and Iwate Prefecture (Figure). A relationship with the rate of employment in primary industries is also evident. In areas where primary industries are predominant, not only was the recovery and reconstruction of such industries the most pressing concern, but also persons employed in those industries were often denied the safety net enjoyed by those employed in ordinary companies, in the form of employment adjustment subsidies and unemployment insurance. As such, a strong social need was also perceived in order to make a living.

Figure Relationship between the rate of employment in fisheries and the rate of emergency job employment

Image, figure2

In Miyagi Prefecture, a difference is seen in the rate of employment through emergency job creation program between regions along the coast: the large conurbation of Sendai City, provincial cities like Ishinomaki and Kesennuma, and small towns like Minami Sanriku. In municipalities such as Tagajo in the outskirts of Sendai, employment needs within the local authority are smaller, partly because of the proximity to a large city with large employment needs. But in Minami Sanriku and other small towns, where the employment rate within the local authority is high, the rate of employment through emergency job creation program is higher. Places like this are thought to be at risk of a population exodus if employment needs are not met.

(Chapter 3)

Chapter 3 examines the role played by the Emergency Job Creation Program based on two case studies of disaster-affected areas distant from large urban areas, where primary industries are dominant. In both cases, there is a high employment rate within the municipality, and the loss of livelihoods due to disaster damage leads to a population exodus. People engaged in fisheries and agriculture only have a weak safety net if they lose their jobs, but cannot easily change to another occupation. Without such employment for disaster victims as provided by the Emergency Job Creation Program or others, these people would be unable to sustain their lives until reconstruction is well underway. For areas with this kind of characteristic, the Emergency Job Creation Program seems to have played the major role of keeping local residents within their original communities.

On the other hand, conditions for employing disaster victims under the Emergency Job Creation Program are that they “lived or worked in disaster-affected areas when the disaster struck, and are now unemployed.” However, the framework should be flexible enough to attract the human resources necessary for reconstructing disaster-affected areas, including those returning to such areas or entering from elsewhere, and experts needed for projects.

(Chapter 4)

Chapter 4 focuses on work connected with temporary housing under the Emergency Job Creation Program and discusses the correlation and balance between livelihood guarantees for individuals by creating jobs (employment support) and contributions to the local community through work (support for disaster-affected areas). On the relationship between support for disaster-affected areas and employment support, analysis reveals that priority was given to the aspect of support for disaster-affected areas over that of employment support. This is because, in the selection process of hiring, specialized skills were not regarded as being particularly necessary, but in the majority of cases general skills like communication ability were evaluated by certain standards. Meanwhile, although the job seekers’ living conditions and degree of hardship were also taken into account in some cases, support for disaster-affected areas was given priority. Then, as long as there was room within the project framework, consideration was given to employment support.

As examples where the dilemma between support for disaster-affected areas and employment support was alleviated, there were cases in which business entities with some form of knowhow in the use of human resources such as temporary worker dispatch agencies, consultancy companies, etc. cooperated with nonprofit organizations and civic groups in hiring and training. In connection with project implementation, also, the provision of knowhow in the use of human resources helps lighten project burdens. Partnership between for-profit and nonprofit organizations could prove effective in the operation of CFW.

(Chapter 5)

Based on our survey, we enumerate the following three points as positive outcomes of the Emergency Job Creation Program. The first is that it has created employment opportunities in disaster-affected areas. Of those who have found employment in the three heavily affected prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, 21.6% obtained jobs via this Program (figures are limited to employment via “Hello Work” public employment security offices). The second is that jobs have been created in a broad range of fields and occupations. While CFW implemented overseas has mainly focused on physical labor accompanying lifeline and infrastructure restoration, the Emergency Job Creation Program has created jobs in a variety of fields. These include support for agriculture, forestry and fisheries, clerical assistance for local authorities, control of damage caused by harmful rumors and misinformation, community support work such as watching over temporary housing, and other work such as management of relief supplies and cleaning. The third point is that this Program has contributed to the reconstruction of disaster-affected areas. Job creation has not only supported unemployed individuals, but the Program itself has the mission of reconstructing disaster-affected areas and employs disaster victims to this end. Also, psychological effect on the disaster victims employed under the Program is worth mentioning. It is clear that these people have a positive attitude toward the rebuilding of lives and reconstruction of communities in future, and that they have gained a higher level of mental satisfaction.

Policy Implications

(Chapter 3)

The three effective aspects of the Emergency Job Creation Program in terms of employment for disaster victims are (1) speed, (2) scale, and (3) flexibility in use. The “speed” of the Program derives from the fact that a framework for it had already existed. This fact, albeit coincidental, is extremely important and should not be overlooked. Natural disasters are difficult to predict in the first place, and the speed and effectiveness of emergency response measures taken immediately after a disaster has occurred are more important than preventing it from happening. This is why an “adjustable framework” which could be changed into an employment measure for disaster victim should always be retained in non-emergency times, however small in institutional terms, and be expandable when the need arises.

In terms of “scale,” the fact that the Program is government-funded was a major factor. The advantage in having program costs funded 100% by the government is that, even if the administration of a municipality were hit by a disaster and ceased to function, neighboring municipalities, prefectures or others could plan and execute projects on its behalf.

“Flexibility in use” is evident just by seeing how many fields jobs have been created in. The primary goal of a program to combat unemployment is to create jobs, and constraints on the content of projects that create those jobs are loose. As a result, it was possible to apply the Program to all sorts of projects thought necessary for the disaster-affected areas. A matter requiring some caution, however, is that scrutiny of the effectiveness of the Program itself tends to be lax. Local authorities that act as implementing bodies should properly monitor whether the fund is being used effectively for reconstruction projects in disaster-affected areas.

The condition for employing disaster victims under the Emergency Job Creation Program is that they “lived or worked in disaster-affected areas when the disaster struck, and are now unemployed.” However, the framework should be flexible enough to attract the human resources necessary for reconstructing disaster-affected areas, including those returning to such areas or entering from elsewhere, and experts needed for projects.

(Chapter 4)

With the CFW method, the correlation between individual livelihood guarantees (employment support) and contribution to the local community through work (support for disaster-affected areas) is expected to be balanced. In reality, however, the element of support for disaster-affected areas is stronger than that of employment support, and support for those with employment difficulties tends to be limited. Therefore, it is thought that livelihoods should be guaranteed under a separate framework from CFW.

To alleviate the dilemma between employment support and support for disaster-affected areas, partnerships between nonprofit and for-profit organizations could prove effective, using knowhow in the use of human resources, high-level training programs, etc. On the other hand, project operation only by for-profit organizations could invite social criticism, out of a resistance to giving social responsibility to commercial businesses. Even when the same level of activities are undertaken, the public could receive different images from those of nonprofit organizations and those of private companies. Thus, partly to prevent a difference from public expectations, partnerships between for-profit and nonprofit organizations could have a great significance.

(Chapter 5)

The emergency employment program is not only a project to counter unemployment, but should be positioned as a system that, by employing people, supports the vast volume of work arising in the processes of disaster response and reconstruction. Specifically, the following four points may be cited. Firstly, emergency employment should not be an exceptional system, but a permanent system that can be activated for all sorts of domestic disaster and crisis situations. Secondly, the decision whether or not to continue a project should be based not on the employment situation but on project needs. It should ideally be a system in which excellent activities meeting strong needs can be continued. Thirdly, wages should be set in line with wage levels in the area concerned. Fourthly, the system should coexist with activities by volunteers and private businesses. Its implementation should be limited to fields where jobs are not provided on the market by the private sector and it is not possible to depend solely on volunteers, residents’ associations or other voluntary organizations. Moreover, employing large numbers of human resources also gives rise to issues of hiring and labor management. In order for emergency employment to function more effectively, relieving burdens on actual sites of labor management will be of major significance.

Schemes for community support implemented under this Program have a degree of universality. In areas where population aging is advanced and local authorities are no longer functioning, for example, they even provide hints that can help to solve local issues in non-emergency times. There is a lot to learn from the experience of this Great East Japan Earthquake.

Policy Contribution

This study is expected to contribute to the design of employment measures for disaster victims in the recovery and reconstruction phase when major disasters occur in future.

Contents

Research Categories

Project research “Research on Strategic Labor/Employment Policies for Non-regular Workers”

Subtheme “JILPT Project for Survey Research on Recovery and Reconstruction, and Employment and Labor following the Great East Japan Earthquake (Project to Record the Great East Japan Earthquake)”

Research Period

FY2012-14

Authors

Akiko ONO
Senior Researcher, The Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training
Shingo NAGAMATSU
Associate Professor, Faculty of Safety Science, Kansai University
Akira YONEZAWA
Full-time Lecturer, Graduate School of Society & Social Work, Meiji Gakuin University
Tetsuya TORAYASHIKI
Graduate School of Safety Science, Kansai University (Ph.D. course)

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