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No.179(2015/3/20)
Economic and Labour Situation in Japan (march 2015)

According to a preliminary report of government, gross domestic product expanded at an annualized rate of 1.5percent in the quarter through December, after the economy had contracted in each of the two previous quarters, a downturn widely blamed on higher taxes. Consumer spending and business investment grew fractionally in the quarter to December, while exports increased at their fastest pace since early 2014. But housing investment continued a decline.
Many economists are forecasting that growth will settle into a more modest but still positive trend, expanding perhaps 1.5 or 2 percent this year and next, because the weaker yen has begun to spur domestic manufacturing by increasing the demand for exports from Japan and cheaper oil is also working in Japan's favor.

Industrial Production
Industrial production shows signs of increasing at a moderate pace.
In January industrial production increased by 4.0% over the previous month, registering an increase for second consecutive months and up 2.6% year-on-year. The index in January was 102.6 (seasonally adjusted).
Industries that mainly contributed to the increase were as follows: (1) general-purpose, production and business oriented machinery (2) transport equipment, and (3) electrical machinery, in that order.
According to the Survey of Production Forecast in Manufacturing, production was expected to increase by 0.2% in February and decrease by 3.2% in March.

Family Income and Expenditure Survey in October
(1) Expenditure for Two-or-More-Person Households
The average monthly consumption expenditure per two-or-more-person household in January was 289,847 yen, down 2.4% in nominal terms and down 5.1% in real terms year-on-year.
(2) Income and Expenditure for Workers' Households
The average monthly income per household stood at 440,226 yen, up 0.4% in nominal terms but down 2.3% in real terms year-on-year.
The average consumption expenditure was 320,674 yen, down 1.6% in nominal terms and down 4.3% in real terms year-on-year.
The three-point consumption tax hike last April has continued to put a drag on household spending.

Labour Force Survey Monthly Results
(1) Employment
The number of employed persons in January was 63.09 million, an increase of 470,000, or 0.8%, over the previous year.
(2) Unemployment
The number of unemployed persons in January was 2.31 million, a decrease of 70,000, or 2.9%, from the same month in the previous year.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in January was 3.6%, worsening 0.2 point from the previous month.

(10,000 persons)
  January figures Change from previous year
      (%)
Population aged 15 years or over 11,077 –7 –0.1
Labour force 6,540 39 0.6
Employed persons 6,309 47 0.8
Employees 5,611 63 1.1
Unemployed persons 231 –7 –2.9
Not in labour force 4,531 –48 –1.0
Labour force participation rate (%) 59.0 0.3
Employment rate (%) 57.0 0.5
Unemployment rate, original series (%) 3.5 –0.2
  Current month Change from previous month
Unemployment rate, seasonally adjusted (%) 3.6 0.2

Japan's job availability in January remained at its highest level in over 22 years. Job availability was the same as the previous month, with the ratio of job offers to jobseekers standing at 1.14. This figure means that there were 114 jobs available for every 100 jobseekers.

Consumer Prices
The consumer price index in January was 103.1 (2010 = 100), down 0.2% over the previous month and up 2.4% over the same month of the previous year.

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