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No.104(2012/10/11)
The Economic and Labour Situation in Japan (October 2012)

Industrial Production
Industrial production appears to have weakened. In August 2012 it decreased by 1.2% from the previous month, registering a decline for the second consecutive month and down 4.3% year-on-year. The index in August was 90.5 (seasonally adjusted).
Industries that mainly contributed to the decrease were as follows: (1) electronic parts and devices, (2) information and communication electronics equipment, and (3) chemicals (excluding drugs), in that order.
Commodities that mainly contributed to the decrease were as follows: (1) metal oxide semiconductor ICs (memory), (2) large passenger cars, and (3) active matrix LCDs (liquid crystal devices), in that order.
According to the Survey of Production Forecast in Manufacturing, production was expected to decrease by 2.9% in September and by 3.3% in October. This survey is a useful economic indicator reflecting changing business conditions and providing clues as to where the economy might be heading in the near future.

Family Income and Expenditure Survey in August
(1) Expenditure for Two-or-More-Person Households
The average monthly consumption expenditure per two-or-more-person household for August 2012 was 286,036 yen, up 1.4% in nominal terms and up 1.8% in real terms year-on-year.
(2) Income and Expenditures for Workers' Households
The average monthly income per household stood at 470,471 yen, up 1.4% in nominal terms and up 1.8% in real terms year-on-year.
The average consumption expenditure was 310,643 yen, up 0.5% in nominal terms and up 0.9% in real terms year-on-year.

Results of Monthly Labour Force Survey
(1) Employment
The number of employed persons in August 2012 was 62.81 million, a decrease of 20,000, or 0.0%, from the same month in the previous year.
(2) Unemployment
The number of unemployed persons in August 2012 was 2.77 million, a decrease of 180,000, or 6.1%, from the same month in the previous year.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.2%, down 0.1 point from the previous month.

(10,000 persons)
  August figures Change from previous year
      (%)
Population aged 15 years or over 11,095 2 0.0
Labour force 6,559 -17 -0.3
Employed persons 6,281 -2 0.0
Employees 5,511 45 0.8
Unemployed persons 277 -18 -6.1
Not in labour force 4,534 22 0.5
Labour force participation rate (%) 59.1 -0.1 -
Employment rate (%) 56.6 0.1 -
Unemployment rate, original series (%) 4.2 -0.3 -
  Current month Change from previous month
Unemployment rate, seasonally adjusted (%) 4.2 -0.1 -

Unemployment Rate by Age

According to a separate report released by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, job availability was the same level as in the previous month, with the ratio of job offers to job seekers standing at 0.83. This figure means that there were 83 jobs available for every 100 job seekers.

Consumer Prices
The consumer price index for Japan in August 2012 was 99.4 (2010=100), up 0.1% over the previous month and down 0.4% from the same month in the previous year.

RENGO Announces Results of 2012 Employment Survey

RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) announced the results of its 2012 Employment Survey on September 21.
This survey was conducted in April-May 2012 with the aims of investigating the impact on employment of such factors as the Great East Japan Earthquake, the strong yen, and flooding in Thailand, which have been affecting the job situation since 2011, and clarifying the actual state and causes of industrial hollowing and employment conditions for young people. The survey results will be utilized in the drafting of employment policy from now on.
The survey questionnaire was distributed to 13,270 RENGO-affiliated unions; 3,247 unions responded.

1. Nearly 40% of companies say business conditions "not good"
According to the survey results, nearly 40% of the responding companies said that business conditions were "not good." In particular, this reply was striking among companies with 99 workers or less and in the transportation, information and communications, and manufacturing (material) industries. More than half of the companies replying that business conditions were "not good" had implemented employment adjustment measures, and about 30% of them had reduced the number of regular employees in Japan.
In another notable result, more than 40% of the companies saying that business conditions were "good" had also implemented employment adjustment measures, and more than 20% of them had reduced the number of their regular employees. In other words, the survey revealed that even when business conditions were favorable, many companies had taken steps to cut the number of regular employees so as to further strengthen their management structure.

2. Striking impact of Great East Japan Earthquake
In the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011, 51.3% of companies suffered a "loss of revenue" due to the disaster, and 14.0% of companies experienced a "substantial loss of revenue." These results show that the Great East Japan Earthquake dealt a heavy blow to domestic companies.

3. Nearly half of companies implemented employment adjustment measures during past year
Nearly half of companies, 45.7%, had implemented employment adjustment measures during the past year. By business, more than 60% of companies in the hotel and restaurant industries had implemented such measures, followed by manufacturing. The most common employment adjustment measure was "reduction and control of overtime" (25.3%).
Comparing the number of workers in Japan with one year earlier, the ratio of companies that had cut their regular workforce (23.9%) exceeded the ratio of companies that had increased their regular workforce (14.0%). However, in the case of direct nonregular employment, such as part-time workers, and indirect employment, such as dispatch and outsourced workers, there was no difference in these ratios. Even among companies saying that business conditions were "good," nearly half, 45.7%, had implemented employment adjustment measures for their domestic regular employees during the past year.

For more details (in Japanese):
http://www.jtuc-rengo.or.jp/shuppan/shiryou/2012_koyou/index.html

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