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Survey of Corporate Attitudes Towards Wage Trends for 2021

Domestic economy worsens for the second month in a rowCompanies anticipating wage improvement stood at 42%,the lowest level in seven years
— “Slumping business performance of own company due to COVID-19” accounts for 70% of the reasons for no wage improvement —


The percentage of companies that considered the domestic economy for 2020 was in a “recovery phase” remained in single digits for the third consecutive year, and those that considered it was in a “downturn phase” exceeded 50% for the first time in the eight years since 2012. It was a year of increased severity. While the spread of COVID-19 infection greatly impacts corporate activities, wage trends attract a lot of attention, such as the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) indicating a policy of not adopting across-the-board pay increases in order to place utmost priority on maintaining employment and staying in business.

In such circumstances, Teikoku Databank conducted a survey of corporate attitudes towards wage trends for 2021. This survey was conducted in conjunction with the January 2021 TDB Trends Research.

*Survey period: January 18 - January 31, 2021; Companies Surveyed: 23,695; Valid Responses: 11,441 (Response Rate: 48.3%) The survey on wages has been conducted every January since 2006, and this is the 16th such survey.

*Details of this survey can be found on the dedicated Economic Trends Survey website. (

*Wage improvement means improvement (increase) in wages by pay-scale raises and bonus pay (lump-sum pay) increases, and does not include annual pay raises.

Primary points of survey results(summary)

  1. 1 Companies anticipating “wage improvement” in 2021 stood at 42.0%, 11.3 points down from the 2020 survey, and a drop to the lowest level in the seven years since the 2014 survey (46.4%). By industry, the highest percentage is in “construction,” whose labor shortage is evident, at 47.8%. The percentage (36.7%) in “transportation and warehousing” which include tourism-related sectors such as travel agencies and passenger vehicle transportation decreased considerably, by 18.5 points.
  2. 2 With respect to the details of wage improvement, pay-scale raises and bonus pay (lump-sum pay) stood at 35.9% (a decrease of 9.3 points y-o-y), and 20.3% (a decrease of 6.0 points y-o-y), respectively. Both dropped substantially from the previous survey.
  3. 3 With respect to the reasons for wage improvement, “stability of and securing the workforce” was at 78.7%. Although there was a decrease from the 2020 survey, the trend to increase wages for stability of and to secure the workforce has remained strong. With respect to the reasons for no wage improvement, “slumping business performance of own company due to COVID-19” reached almost 70%, at 69.4%.
  4. 4 Companies responding that total personnel expenses would “increase” for 2021 stood at 54.2%, a sizeable decrease of 14.7 points from the 2020 survey. By industry, the percentage exceeds 60% only in “construction,” followed by 56.0% in “service.” In particular, sectors in which a labor shortage is evident, such as “medical care, welfare, health, and hygiene,” “information service,” “maintenance, security, and inspection” show a tendency for total personnel expenses to increase.
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