Activity reports E-mail magazine

Economic and Labour Situation in Japan, November 2023

The 2024 Issue in Work-style Reform

The 2024 issue in work-style reform revolves around concerns stemming from the implementation of upper limits on the annual overtime hours for occupations such as truck driving, which were granted a five-year grace period under work-style reform-related laws. These limits, set to apply in April 2024, raise apprehensions regarding labour shortages and delivery delays. Each driver’s working hours will be restricted, forcing companies to consider additional hiring and reduced delivery volume. Conversely, drivers may find their income falling as their working hours decrease, adding to the concerns. Adjustments in working hours may also result in end-of-year delivery disruptions.

Starting from April 2024, the annual overtime hours limit has been set at 960 hours. Additionally, the rest time between the end of one workday and the beginning of the next (work interval) has been increased from 8 hours to 9 hours. This change is part of the implementation of work-style reform-related laws. In industries such as long-distance transportation where extended work hours have become the norm, it was challenging to make early adjustments, so a five-year grace period was granted.

The upper limits on annual overtime hours are also commencing simultaneously for occupations in the automobile driving, construction, and medical fields. In the construction industry, the upper limit for annual  overtime hours has been set at 720 hours per year, with exceptions during disaster recovery operations that may temporarily raise the monthly limit. Medical professionals also face upper limits of 960 hours for annual overtime, but in cases related to maintaining regional healthcare, they can work up to a maximum of 1860 hours per year if justified.

Labour Force Survey Monthly Results¹

(1) Employment

The number of employed persons in September 2023 was 67.87 million, an increase of 210,000 over the same month the previous year. By gender, this included 37.22 million men, up 50,000, and 30.65 million women, up 160,000 from the previous year.


(2) Unemployment

The number of unemployed persons in September 2023 was 1.82 million, a decrease of 50,000 from the same month in the previous year.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in September was 2.6%, down 0.1 from the same month the previous year. The unemployment rate was 2.8% for men, down 0.1, and 2.3% for women, down 0.1 from the same month the previous year.


Units: 10,000 persons



Change From

Previous Year

Population Aged Fifteen and Over 11,015 -18 -0.2
Labour Force 6,969 -13 -0.2
Employed Persons 6,787 21 0.3
Employees 6,124 54 0.9
Unemployed Persons 182 -5 -2.7
Not in Labour Force 4,040 -31 -0.8
Labour Force Participation Rate (%) 63.3 0.3
Employment Rate (%) 61.6 0.3
Unemployment Rate, Original Series (%) 2.6 -0.1
  Current Month Change From

Previous Month

Unemployment Rate, Seasonally Adjusted (%) 2.6 -0.1  


(3) Job Availability

Japan’s job availability in September stood at 1.29, unchanged from the previous month. This ratio means there were 129 job openings for every 100 job seekers.

The ratio of regular employee job offers to applicants was 1.02, unchanged from the previous month.

The ratio of new job offers to applicants, a leading indicator for the labour market, was 2.22, down 0.11 from the previous month. The number of new job offers decreased 3.4% from the same month the previous year. By industry, the accommodation and food services sector rose at 5.2%, followed by the education and learning support sector at 2.6%, and then healthcare. On the other hand, the manufacturing sector dropped 12.7%, while the construction sector sank 8.1%.


Industrial Production²

Industrial Production Fluctuates Indecisively

Industrial output in September increased 0.2% over from the previous month. While production and shipments increased, inventory ratio and inventories decreased.

The industries that mainly contributed to this increase were as follows: (1) motor vehicles; (2) general-purpose and business-oriented machinery; and (3) ceramics, stone, and clay products, in that order.

According to the Survey of Production Forecasts in Manufacturing, production was expected to increase 3.9% in October and decrease 2.8% in November.


September 2023                                                           2015 average = 100

  Seasonally Adjusted Index Original Index
  Index Change From Previous Month (%) Index Change From Previous Year (%)
Production 103.3 0.2 106.9 -4.6
Shipments 103.2 0.4 107.7 -2.5
Inventories 103.8 -1.1 103.1 0.4
Inventory Ratio 104.1 -1.1 99.9 5.0


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 September was 282,969 yen, up 0.7% in nominal terms and down 2.8% in real terms from the previous year, declining for the seventh consecutive month. By component in real terms, spending on clothing & footwear fell 18.3% and furniture & household utensils fell 14.7%. Transportation & communication rose 12.4%.


2) Income and Expenditures for Workers’ Households

Average monthly income per household stood at 487,499 yen, down 2.4% in nominal terms and down 5.8% in real terms from the previous year, due to higher inflation rates. The average level of consumption expenditure was 311,728 yen per month, down 0.7% in nominal terms and down 4.2% in real terms year-on-year.


Consumer Prices⁴

The consumer price index (CPI) in September was 106.2 (2020 = 100), up 3.0% over the previous year and up 0.3% over the previous month. Core inflation (CPI less food and energy) was up 4.2% over the previous year and up 0.2% over the previous month, marking the eighteenth straight month of increase, but slowing slightly from a 4.3 percent rise in August. Energy prices dipped 11.7%, as electricity bills fell 24.6% due to the government’s subsidization of utility bills for consumers. Food prices (excluding volatile fresh items) rose 9.2%, the fastest pace in nearly 47 years. Egg prices surged 31.2% amid bird flu-related supply concerns. Tomato prices surged 16.2% due to hot weather.


September 2023

  Index Annual
Change (%)
Change (%)
(Seasonally Adjusted)
All Items 106.2 3.0 0.3
All Items, Less Fresh Food 105.7 2.8 0.0
All Items, Less Fresh Food and Energy 105.4 4.2 0.1

1. Source: Labour Force Survey Monthly Results (Statistics Bureau of Japan)

2. Source: Indices of Industrial Production (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry)

3. Source: Summary of the Latest Month on Family Income and Expenditure Survey (Statistics Bureau of Japan)

4. Source: Consumer Price Index (Statistics Bureau of Japan)