Activity reports E-mail magazine

Economic and Labour Situation in Japan, April 2024


2024 Spring Struggle for a Better Life: Sharpest Climb in More Than 30 Year

On April 4, RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) carried out its third tally of wage hike settlements reached in the 2024 Spring Struggle for a Better Life. At small- and medium-sized unions with less than 300 members, the average wage increase rate, including the base-up increase in basic wages and regular raises, stood at 4.69%, reaching the highest level since 1992 compared to final tallies of the past. The average across all unions was 5.24%. At a press conference on the 4th, Tomoko Yoshino, the chairperson of RENGO, stated, “There is a recognition that wage increases are necessary to stop the outflow of talent in small- and medium-sized enterprises.”

RENGO’s survey revealed that 2,362 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 16,037 yen, the equivalent of 5.24% of the average wage before the hike; more than at the same stage last year at 4,923 yen, and 1.54 percentage points.

At unions with more than 1000 members, the average wage hike was 16,622 yen, up 5.28%; more than at the same stage last year at 5,063 yen, and 1.54 percentage points.

Of unions with fewer than 300 members, the average wage hike was 12,097 yen, up 4.69%; more than at the same stage last year at 3,543 yen, and 1.27 percentage points.


Statements by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at a press conference after the budget for the new fiscal year starting

The greatest key to transitioning to a new economic stage is the strengthening of wage increases and earning power for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Firstly, it involves appropriate price pass-through. Strict measures must be taken to address violations of subcontracting laws that inhibit wage increases.

Secondly, it requires detailed wage increase support. The wage increase promotion tax system, unprecedented in covering up to 80% of SMEs, including deficit companies, will introduce unprecedented carried-over deduction measures starting in April. New mechanisms have also been introduced for those working in the medical and welfare fields, significantly raising labour unit prices for the construction and logistics industries.

Thirdly, it involves strengthening measures to address labour shortages. Intensive support for investment in labour-saving and automation will be implemented. Efforts will be made to improve labour productivity through reskilling.

Fourthly, it involves support for workers. Efforts will be maximized to achieve the goal of raising the minimum wage to 1,500 yen by the mid-2030s at an earlier date.

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-19 pandemic.

(1) Employment

The number of employed persons in February 2023 was 67.28 million, an increase of 610,000 over the same month the previous year. By gender, this included 36.83 million men, up 150,000, and 30.45 million women, up 460,000 from the previous year.

(2) Unemployment

The number of unemployed persons in February 2023 was 1.77 million, an increase of 30,000 from the same month in the previous year.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in February rose to 2.6%, up 0.2 over the previous month. The unemployment rate was 2.7% for men, up 0.2, and 2.6% for women, up 0.3 over the same month the previous year.

Units: 10,000 persons

   February Figures Change From Previous Year
Population Aged Fifteen and Over 10,994 -18 -0.2
Labour Force 6,905 65 1.0
Employed Persons 6,728 61 0.9
Employees 6,088 76 1.3
Unemployed Persons 177 3 1.7
Not in Labour Force 4,082 -81 -1.9
Labour Force Participation Rate (%) 62.8 0.7
Employment Rate (%) 61.2 0.7
Unemployment Rate, Original Series (%) 2.6 0.1
  Current Month Change From Previous Month
Unemployment Rate, Seasonally Adjusted (%) 2.6 0.2  

(3) Job Availability

Japan’s job availability in February stood at 1.26, up 0.01 points over the previous month. This ratio means there were 126 job openings for every 100 job seekers.

The ratio of regular employee job offers to applicants was 1.01, up 0.01 points over the previous month.

The ratio of new job offers to applicants, a leading indicator for the labour market, was 2.26, down 0.02 points from the previous month. The number of new job offers decreased 3.6%. By industry, the information and communications sector rose 4.2%. The manufacturing sector fell 8.7%, while the accommodation and food services sector dropped 8.4%.

Industrial Production*2

Industrial output in February decreased 0.1% from the previous month.

Production, shipments, and inventory ratio decreased, while inventories increased. The industries that mainly contributed to this decrease were as follows: (1) motor vehicles; (2) production machinery; and (3) electronic parts and devices, in that order.

According to the Survey of Production Forecasts in Manufacturing, production was expected to increase 4.9% in March and increase 3.3% in April.


February 2024                                2020 average = 100









Month (%)

Original Index




Previous Year(%)

Production 97.9 -0.1 97.5 -3.4
Shipments 96.2 -0.4 95.9 -4.4
Inventories 101.6 0.6 102.7 -1.7
Inventory Ratio 99.7 -5.5 108.4 2.0

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 February was 279,868 yen, up 2.8% in nominal terms and down 0.5% in real terms from the previous year, declining for the twelfth consecutive month.

(2) Income and Expenditures for Workers’ Households

Average monthly income per household stood at 561,495 yen, up 0.7% in nominal terms but down 2.5% in real terms from the previous year, due to higher inflation rates. The average level of consumption expenditure was 307,765 yen per month, up 3.0% in nominal terms and down 0.3% in real terms year-on-year.

Consumer Prices*4

The consumer price index (CPI) in February was 106.9 (2020 = 100), up 2.8% over the previous year and unchanged from the previous month, accelerating for the first

time in four months, with the fading effects of state subsidies to curb energy costs adding to inflationary pressures. Core inflation (CPI less food and energy) was up 3.2% over the previous year and up 0.1 over the previous month. Energy prices dipped 1.7%, as electricity bills fell 2.5% due to the government’s subsidization of utility bills for consumers. Food prices (excluding volatile fresh items) rose 2.8%.  Accommodation fees jumped up 33.3%, as travel demand continued to recover with the return of foreign tourists to Japan.


February 2023

  Index Annual
Change (%)
Change (%)
(Seasonally Adjusted)
All Items 106.9 2.8 0.0
All Items, Less Fresh Food 106.4 2.8 0.1
All Items, Less Fresh Food and Energy 105.8 3.2 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)