Japanese women fight for right to wear glasses to work

Japanese women fight for right to wear glasses to work
By Beh Lih Yi

KUALA LUMPUR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Japanese women have taken to Twitter to demand the right to wear glasses to work after reports employers were imposing bans, in the latest social media outcry against rigid rules on women’s appearance.

The hashtag “glasses are forbidden” has been trending after a Japanese television show exposed businesses that were imposing bans on female staff.

“These are rules that are out of date,” one Twitter user posted under the hashtag, while another called the reasons given by employers “idiotic”.

One woman who works in restaurants tweeted that she was repeatedly told not to wear her glasses because it would appear “rude” and they did not go with the traditional kimono she wore.

The tweet, posted under the handle @wine_kimono last month, has since been shared nearly 13,000 times.

“If the rules prohibit only women to wear glasses, this is a discrimination against women,” Kanae Doi, the Japan director at global advocacy group Human Rights Watch, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Friday.

The latest outcry came after a campaign earlier this year that demanded Japanese companies stop forcing their female staff to wear high heels to work.

More than 21,000 people signed an online petition started by a Japanese actress earlier this year that called for a ban on compulsory high heels at work, in what has been known as the #KuToo movement.

In response, a Japanese minister said dress code expectations were “necessary and appropriate” in the workplace.

Japan was ranked 110 out of 149 countries in the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Gender Gap report, well behind other developed countries.

(Reporting by Beh Lih Yi @behlihyi; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

U.S. labor market hot, jobs hard to fill: Fed’s Harker

FILE PHOTO: People wait in line to attend TechFair LA, a technology job fair, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson - RC1458E83C90

(Reuters) – U.S. employers are struggling to fill jobs and that is unlikely to change any time soon given the labor market is getting quite tight, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia President Patrick Harker said on Tuesday.

“We have a labor market with very little slack left, and the most common refrain I hear from employers is that they can’t fill the jobs they have,” Harker said in prepared remarks to a conference on higher education. “Those demographic and technological pressures are unlikely to recede.”

The unemployment rate fell to near a 49-year low of 3.7 percent last month.

(Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Seattle employers cut hours after latest minimum wage rise, study finds

FILE PHOTO: Protest signs are pictured in SeaTac, Washington just before a march from SeaTac to Seattle aimed at the fast food industry and raising the federal minimum wage and Seattle's minimum wage to $15 an hour December 5, 2013. REUTERS/David Ryder/File Photo

By Alex Dobuzinskis

(Reuters) – A Seattle law that requires many businesses to pay a minimum wage of at least $13 an hour has left low-wage workers with less money in their pockets because some employers cut working hours, a study released on Monday said.

Low-wage workers on average now clock 9 percent fewer hours and earn $125 less each month than before the Pacific Northwest city set one of the highest minimum wages in the nation, the University of Washington research paper said.

Even so, overall employment at city restaurants, where a large percentage of low-wage earners work, held steady.

Seattle, which has a booming economy and a strong technology sector, is midway through an initiative to increase its minimum wage for all employers to $15 an hour. The city is at the forefront of a nationwide push by Democratic elected officials and organized labor in targeting $15 for all workers.

“Most people will tell you there is a level of minimum wage that is too high,” Jacob Vigdor, a professor of public policy at the University of Washington and director of the team studying the increase, said in a phone interview. “There is a sense that as you raise it too high, then you get to a point where employers will really start cutting back.”

Many companies reached that point after Seattle, a city of nearly 700,000 residents, raised the minimum to $13 an hour for large employers beginning Jan. 1, 2016, according to the study.

Seattle’s labor market held steady when the minimum rose to $11 from $9.47 on April 1, 2015, the university found in a study released last year.

“Raising the minimum wage helps ensure more people who live and work in Seattle can share in our city’s success, and helps fight income inequality,” Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said in a statement in response to the study, which the city commissioned.

The federal minimum wage has stayed at $7.25 an hour since 2009, and the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress has opposed an increase.

Critics of minimum wage increases say they lead to layoffs and force some companies out of business.

The latest research from the University of Washington found no major reduction in hours or jobs at Seattle restaurants, in keeping with a finding in a study conducted by University of California, Berkeley, that was released last week.

Lawmakers in California, the nation’s most populous state, voted last year to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022. Elected officials in several states, including New York and Oregon, and large cities such as Chicago have in the last two years approved their own minimum pay hikes.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Leslie Adler)

U.S. job growth slows sharply, unemployment rate falls to 4.5 percent

A fast food restaurant advertises for workers on its front window in Encinitas, California, U.S., September 13, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – U.S. employers added the fewest number of workers in 10 months in March, but a drop in the unemployment rate to a near 10-year low of 4.5 percent pointed to a labor market that continues to tighten.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 98,000 jobs last month as the retail sector shed employment for a second straight month, the Labor Department said on Friday, the fewest since last May.

The economy enjoyed job gains in excess of 200,000 in January and February as unusually warm temperatures pulled forward hiring in weather-sensitive sectors like construction, leisure and hospitality. In March, temperatures dropped and a storm lashed the Northeast.

The unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percentage point to 4.5 percent, the lowest level since May 2007.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast payrolls increasing 180,000 last month and the unemployment rate unchanged at 4.7 percent.

The economy needs to create 75,000 to 100,000 jobs per month to keep up with growth in the working-age population. The labor market is expected to hit full employment this year, which could

drive faster wage growth.

The weak payrolls gain could raise concerns about the economy’s health especially given signs that gross domestic product slowed to around a 1.0 percent annualized growth pace in the first quarter after rising at a 2.1 percent rate in the fourth quarter.

Average hourly earnings increased 5 cents or 0.2 percent in March, which lowered the year-on-year increase to 2.7 percent.

Given rising inflation, the moderate job gains and gradual wage increases could still keep the Federal Reserve on course to raise interest rates again in June.

The U.S. central bank lifted its overnight interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point in March and has forecast two more hikes this year. The Fed has said it would look at how to reduce its portfolio of bond holdings later this year.

The labor force participation rate, or the share of working-age Americans who are employed or at least looking for a job, held at an 11-month high of 63 percent in March.

Economists attribute some of the improvement in the participation rate to President Donald Trump’s electoral victory last November, which might have caused some unemployed Americans to believe their job prospects would improve. Trump has pledged to pursue pro-growth policies such as tax cuts and deregulation.

Construction jobs increased 6,000 after robust gains in January and February. Manufacturing employment gained 11,000 jobs as rising oil prices fuel demand for machinery.

Retail payrolls fell 29,700, declining for a second straight month. Retailers including J.C. Penney Co Inc and Macy’s Inc have announced thousands of layoffs as they shift toward online sales and scale back on brick-and-mortar operations.

Government payrolls increased 9,000 despite a freeze on the hiring of civilian workers.

((Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci))