Economic and Labour Situation in Japan, June 2023
2023 Spring Struggle for a Better Life
In the spring labour struggle of 2023, RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) made renewed efforts towards wage increases, resulting in the highest raise since 2014 and the highest level in nearly 30 years. This achievement not only takes into account the recent impact of rising prices on union members’ households, but also recognizes the potential consequences of stagnant wage levels on corporate management, industrial sustainability, and ultimately, Japan’s economic growth. Both labour and management sides engaged in ongoing and sincere negotiations with a long-term view, considering this process as a transformative turning point that may lead to a better future.
On June 5, RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) carried out its sixth tally of wage hike settlements reached in the 2023 Spring Struggle for a Better Life. RENGO’s survey revealed that 4,475 unions that had demanded average wage hikes for members and engaged in labour–management negotiations had reached settlements by that time.
The average wage hike in these settlements (including the regular wage hike) was 10,807 yen, the equivalent of 3.66% of the average wage before the hike; this level was 4,758 yen, and 1.57 percentage points, more than at the same stage last year. Of unions with more than 1000 members, the average wage hike was 11,519 yen, up 3.73%; this level was 5,104 yen, and 1.60 percentage points, more than at the same stage last year. Of unions with fewer than 300 members, the average wage hike was 8,328 yen, up 3.36%; this level was 3,471 yen, and 1.39 percentage points, more than at the same stage last year. Of unions with fewer than 100 members, the average wage hike was 7,167 yen, up 3.10%; this level was 2,769 yen, and 1.21 percentage points, more than at the same stage last year.
The wage increase for fixed-term, part-time, and contract workers, on a weighted average basis, is an hourly rate of 52.78 yen (an increase of 29.03 yen compared to the same period last year) and a monthly salary of 6,982 yen (an increase of 2,993 yen compared to the same period last year). The increase rates are approximately 5.01% and 3.24% respectively, which are the highest since the comparable 2015 spring struggle. The hourly wage growth rate exceeds that of regular union members (average wage method).
Labour Force Survey Monthly Results¹
The employment situation is gradually picking up.
The number of employed persons in April 2023 was 67.41 million, an increase of 140,000 over the same month the previous year, surpassing the pre-pandemic level for the same month in 2019. By gender, this included 36.89 million men, down 90,000, and 30.52 million women, up 230,000 from the previous year, respectively.
The number of unemployed persons in April 2023 was 1.90 million, an increase of 20,000 from the same month in the previous year.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in April was 2.6%, down 0.2 from the previous month. The unemployment rate for men was 2.7%, down 0.3, and 2.4% for women, down 0.1 from the previous month, respectively. This was the first improvement in three months, indicating signs of continued recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Units: 10,000 persons
|Population Aged Fifteen and Over||11,018||-23||-0.2|
|Not in Labour Force||4,079||-37||-0.9|
|Labour Force Participation Rate (%)||62.9||0.3||–|
|Employment Rate (%)||61.2||0.3||–|
|Unemployment Rate, Original Series (%)||2.7||0.0||–|
|Current Month||Change From
|Unemployment Rate, Seasonally Adjusted (%)||2.6||-0.2|
(3) Job Availability
Japan’s job availability in April stood at 1.32, unchanged from the previous month. This ratio means there were 132 job openings for every 100 job seekers. The ratio of regular employee job offers to applicants was 1.03, up 0.01 over the previous month.
The ratio of new job offers to applicants, a leading indicator for the labour market, was 2.23, down 0.06 from the previous month. Among various industries, accommodation and restaurant services saw the sharpest rise at 8.2%, followed by the information and communication sectors at 7.5%. In contrast, employment offers in the construction sector dropped 9.6%, while those in the manufacturing sector sank 9.3%.
Industrial output in April fell 0.4% from the previous month, marking the first decline in three months. While production, shipments, and inventory ratio all decreased, inventories increased.
The industries that mainly contributed to this decrease were as follows: (1) production machinery; (2) iron, steel, and non-ferrous metals; and (3) transport equipment (excl. motor vehicles), in that order.
According to the Survey of Production Forecasts in Manufacturing, production was expected to increase 1.9% in May and increase 1.2% in June. Industrial production shows signs of increase at a moderate pace.
|Seasonally Adjusted Index||Original Index|
|Index||Change From Previous Month (%)||Index||Change From Previous Year (%)|
Family Income and Expenditure Survey³
(1) Expenditure of Households of Two Persons or More
Average monthly consumption expenditure of households of two or more persons in April was 303,076 yen, down 1.4% in nominal terms and down 4.4% in real terms from the previous year, declining for the second consecutive month and marking the second-largest drop after a 6.5% fall in February 2021, as more people cut back on spending on education and food amid rising prices. By component in real terms, spending on culture & recreation rose 4.6% after the government eased the country’s COVID-19 situation. Housing expenditure fell 15.3% and education fell 19.5%, affected by rising prices.
(2) Income and Expenditures for Workers’ Households
Average monthly income per household stood at 553,975 yen, up 2.6% in nominal terms but down 1.4% in real terms from the previous year. The average level of consumption expenditure was 334,229 yen per month, down 2.9% in nominal terms and down 6.7% in real terms year-on-year.
The consumer price index (CPI) in April was 105.1 (2020 = 100), up 3.5% over the previous year and up 0.5% over the previous month. Core inflation (CPI less food and energy) was up 4.1% over the previous year, marking the thirteenth straight month of increase. Energy prices dipped 4.4%, the third fall in nearly two years, as electricity bills fell 9.0% due to the government’s subsidization of utility bills for consumers. Food prices (excluding volatile fresh items) rose 9.0%, the fastest pace in nearly 47 years. Egg prices surged 33.7% amid bird flu-related supply concerns.
|All Items, Less Fresh Food||104.8||3.4||0.5|
|All Items, Less Fresh Food and Energy||104.0||4.1||0.5|
- Source: Labour Force Survey Monthly Results (Statistics Bureau of Japan) (https://www.stat.go.jp/english/data/roudou/results/month/index.html)
- Source: Indices of Industrial Production (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) (https://www.meti.go.jp/english/statistics/tyo/iip/index.html)
- Source: Summary of the Latest Month on Family Income and Expenditure Survey (Statistics Bureau of Japan) (https://www.stat.go.jp/english/data/kakei/156.html)
- Source: Consumer Price Index (Statistics Bureau of Japan)