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Economic and Labour Situation in Japan, January 2024


Favorable Environment for Wage Increases in The Spring Labour Negotiations

Chairs of major economic organizations, including Masakazu Tokura, Chairman of Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), have discussed their aspirations for 2024 in interviews with various media outlets. Tokura stated that wage increases should not be limited to 2023 and 2024, emphasizing the need for continuity. Takeshi Niinami, Chairperson of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai), emphasized the importance of making wage increases a “social norm.”

In an interview, Tokura reiterated the need to avoid making the 2024 wage increase a temporary measure, stressing the importance of approaching it with more enthusiasm than the previous year. He expressed eagerness to surpass the 3.99% wage increase achieved by major companies in 2023. He also emphasized the significance of raising the base salary through a base-up (BA) approach to alleviate the impact of rising prices on household budgets.

Niinami highlighted in the interview that wage increases should be considered an investment in people and should become a social norm. He emphasized the importance of creating an environment in which companies not adhering to societal norms are not valued. While expressing that raising the minimum wage to ¥2,000 within about three years would be ideal, he also discussed the results of a year-end survey by Nikkei Shimbun, where a “5% range” was the most common response for wage increases among presidents of major companies.

As part of the government’s support measures for wage increases in mid-sized companies, a plan has been devised to provide subsidies for large-scale facility investments to companies planning wage increases in excess of the minimum wage’s growth rate. The subsidy, set to be introduced by this spring, targets companies with fewer than 2,000 employees, providing one-third of the amount invested as support for investments exceeding ¥1 billion.

Furthermore, to encourage small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with fewer than 300 employees to increase wages, the government plans to revise the “Wage Increase Promotion Tax System” to lighten the corporate tax burden for companies that raise salaries, making it easier for SMEs to benefit from tax incentives.

Labour Force Survey Monthly Results(*1)

The labour market in general has been on a tightening trend amid labour shortages, as the economy continues to recover from the COVID pandemic.

(1) Employment

The number of employed persons in November 2023 was 66.89 million, an increase of 440,000 over the same month the previous year. By gender, this included 36.86 million men, up 60,000, and 30.03 million women, up 380,000 from the previous year.

(2) Unemployment

The number of unemployed persons in November 2023 was 1.64 million, a decrease of 210,000 from the same month in the previous year.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in November was 2.5%, down 0.1 from the same month the previous year. The unemployment rate was 2.4% for men, down 0.1, and 2.6% 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 11,022 -43 -0.4
Labour Force 6,854 24 0.4
Employed Persons 6,689 43 0.6
Employees 6,034 57 1.0
Unemployed Persons 164 -21 -11.4
Not in Labour Force 4,161 -65 -1.5
Labour Force Participation Rate (%) 62.2 0.5
Employment Rate (%) 60.7 0.6
Unemployment Rate, Original Series (%) 2.4 -0.3
Current Month Change From

Previous Month

Unemployment Rate, Seasonally Adjusted (%) 2.4 -0.1
(3) Job Availability

Japan’s job availability in November stood at 1.28, down 0.02 from the previous month. This ratio means there were 128 job openings for every 100 job seekers.

The ratio of regular employee job offers to applicants was 1.01, unchanged from the previous month.

The ratio of new job offers to applicants, a leading indicator for the labour market, was 2.26, up 0.02 over the previous month. The number of new job offers decreased 4.8% from the same month the previous year. By industry, the education and learning support sector rose by 3.5%. The accommodation and food services sector dropped 12.8%.

Industrial Production(*2)

Industrial Production Fluctuates Indecisively

Industrial output in November deceased 0.9% from the previous month, after rising for the second consecutive month. Production and shipments decreased, while inventory ratio and inventories increased. The industries that mainly contributed to this decrease were as follows: (1) motor vehicles, (2) electrical machinery and information and communication electronics equipment; and (3) general-purpose and business-oriented machinery, in that order.

According to the Survey of Production Forecasts in Manufacturing, production was expected to increase 6.0% in December and decrease 7.2% in January.

November 2023
2015 average = 100
Seasonally Adjusted Index Original Index
Index Change From Previous Month (%) Index Change From Previous Year (%)
Production 104.0 -0.9 107.1 -1.4
Shipments 102.5 -1.3 105.8 -1.5
Inventories 104.3 0.1 105.5 1.1
Inventory Ratio 105.2 1.9 103.6 6.3

Family Income and Expenditure Survey(*3)

(1) Expenditure of Households of Two Persons or More

Average monthly consumption expenditure of households of two or more persons in November was 286,922 yen, up 0.3% in nominal terms and down 2.9% in real terms from the previous year, declining for the ninth consecutive month. By component in real terms, spending on housing fell 20.9% and education fell 11.0%.  Clothing & footwear rose by 15.4%.

(2) Income and Expenditures for Workers’ Households

Average monthly income per household stood at 494,181 yen, down 1.6% in nominal terms and down 4.7% in real terms from the previous year, due to higher inflation rates. The average level of consumption expenditure was 301,718 yen per month, down 2.1% in nominal terms and down 5.2% in real terms year-on-year.

Consumer Prices(*4)

The consumer price index (CPI) in November was 106.9 (2020 = 100), up 2.8% over the previous year and down 0.1% from the previous month. Core inflation (CPI less food and energy) was up 3.8% over the previous year and up 0.1% over the previous month, marking the twentieth straight month of increase, but slowing slightly from a 4.0% rise in November. Energy prices dipped 10.1%, as electricity bills fell 18.1% due to the government’s subsidization of utility bills for consumers. Food prices (excluding volatile fresh items) rose 6.7%. Egg prices surged 26.3% amid bird flu-related supply concerns and accommodation fees jumped up 62.9%, marking the fastest increase since comparable data became available in 1971. Travel demand continues to recover with the return of foreign tourists to Japan.

November 2023
Index Annual
Change (%)
Change (%)
(Seasonally Adjusted)
All Items 106.9 3.8 -0.2
All Items, Less Fresh Food 106.4 2.5 0.0
All Items, Less Fresh Food and Energy 105.8 3.8 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)