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Economic and Labour Situation in Japan, March 2024


Real Wages Down 0.6% in January

According to the monthly labour statistics survey for January 2024 released by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare on the 7th (preliminary data, for businesses with 5 or more employees), the real wage per person decreased by 0.6% compared to the same month of the previous year, taking into account inflation. This marks the 22nd consecutive month of decline, highlighting a persistent situation where wage increases are not keeping up with rising prices.


The negative impact on real wages has reduced from a 2.1% decline in December. This can be attributed to the nominal wage showing an upward trend and a decrease in the inflation indicator used to calculate real wages, which fell by 0.5 percentage points from December to 2.5%. As a result, the decline in wages has been somewhat alleviated.


The total cash earnings per person including base and overtime pay, indicating nominal wages, recorded a 2% increase at 282,270 yen ($1,900) compared to the same month of the previous year. This marks the 25th consecutive month of positive growth since January 2022.


Labour Force Survey Monthly Results¹

The labour market in general has been on a tightening trend amid labour shortages, as the economy continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

(1) Employment

The number of employed persons in January 2023 was 67.14 million, an increase of 250,000 over the same month the previous year. By gender, this included 36.82 million men, down 40,000, and 30.32 million women, up 290,000 from the previous year.


(2) Unemployment

The number of unemployed persons in January 2023 was 1.63 million, a decrease of 10,000 from the same month in the previous year.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in January fell to 2.4% from 2.5% in the previous month for the first improvement in three months. The unemployment rate was 2.5% for men, down 0.3, and 2.3% for women, up 0.2 over the same month the previous year. The number of unemployed women rose 60,000 to 730,000, as more women left their jobs in search of better working conditions amid an economic recovery.

Units: 10,000 persons



Change From

Previous Year

Population Aged Fifteen and Over 10,993 -29 -0.3  
Labour Force 6,877 23 0.3  
Employed Persons 6,714 25 0.4  
Employees 6,076 42 0.7  
Unemployed Persons 163 -1 -0.6  
Not in Labour Force 4,109 -52 -1.2  
Labour Force Participation Rate (%) 62.6 0.4  
Employment Rate (%) 61.1 0.4  
Unemployment Rate, Original Series (%) 2.4 0.0  
  Current Month Change From

Previous Month

Unemployment Rate, Seasonally Adjusted (%) 2.4 -0.1  


(3) Job Availability

Japan’s job availability in January stood at 1.27, unchanged from the previous month. This ratio means there were 127 job openings for every 100 job seekers.

The ratio of regular employee job offers to applicants was 1.00, unchanged from the previous month.

The ratio of new job offers to applicants, a leading indicator for the labour market, was 2.28, up 0.03 points over the previous month. The number of new job offers decreased 3.0% from the same month the previous year. By industry, the living-related and personal services and amusement service sector rose at 5.7%. The manufacturing sector fell 11.6%, while the accommodation and food services sector dropped 8.8%.


Industrial Production²

Industrial output in January decreased 7.5% from the previous month. This was the biggest fall since May 2020, as automobile production plunged amid suspensions at Toyota Motor Corp. group companies due to safety test scandals.

Production, shipments, and inventories decreased, while inventory ratio increased. The industries that mainly contributed to this decrease were as follows: (1) motor vehicles; (2) general-purpose and business-oriented machinery chemicals; and (3) electrical machinery, and information and communication electronics equipment, in that order.

According to the Survey of Production Forecasts in Manufacturing, production was expected to increase 4.8% in February and increase 2.0% in March.

January 2024                                             2020 average = 100



Seasonally Adjusted


Change From Previous

Month (%)

Original Index






Production 97.6 -7.5 92.6 -1.5
Shipments 96.2 -8.3 90.6 -1.7
Inventories 101.0 -1.8 102.5 -1.3
Inventory Ratio 106.1 3.9 114.1 1.3


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 January was 289,467 yen, down 4.0% in nominal terms and down 6.3% in real terms from the previous year, declining for the eleventh consecutive month.

(2) Income and Expenditures for Workers’ Households

Average monthly income per household stood at 497,383 yen, up 0.3% in nominal terms but down 2.1% in real terms from the previous year, due to higher inflation rates. The average level of consumption expenditure was 313,165 yen per month, down 5.4% in nominal terms and down 7.7% in real terms year-on-year.


Consumer Prices⁴

The consumer price index (CPI) in January was 106.9 (2020 = 100), up 2.2% over the previous year and unchanged from the previous month. Core inflation (CPI less food and energy) was up 3.5% over the previous year and up 0.2 over the previous month, slowing slightly from a 3.8% rise in November. Energy prices dipped 12.1%, as electricity bills fell 21.0% due to the government’s subsidization of utility bills for consumers. Food prices (excluding volatile fresh items) rose 2.0%. Egg prices surged 18.3% amid bird flu-related supply concerns and accommodation fees jumped up 26.9%, as travel demand continued to recover with the return of foreign tourists to Japan.

January 2023

  Index Annual
Change (%)
Change (%)
(Seasonally Adjusted)
All Items 106.9 2.2 0.0
All Items, Less Fresh Food 106.4 2.0 0.1
All Items, Less Fresh Food and Energy 105.8 3.5 0.2


  1. 1. Source: Labour Force Survey Monthly Results (Statistics Bureau of Japan)
  2. 2. Source: Indices of Industrial Production (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry)
  3. 3. Source: Summary of the Latest Month on Family Income and Expenditure Survey (Statistics Bureau of Japan)
  4. 4. Source: Consumer Price Index (Statistics Bureau of Japan)
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