In the three months through March 2012 the Japanese economy grew at an annualized real rate of 4.1% over the previous quarter. The world's third-largest economy is recovering from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami with the help of an acceleration of public works construction projects and strong consumption supported by the government's fiscal stimulus.
The first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) was driven mainly by domestic demand. Private consumption, which accounts for about 60% of Japanese GDP, rose 1.1% for the fourth-straight quarterly increase as household spending on durable goods, notably cars, expanded after the government reintroduced a subsidy program for the purchase of environment-friendly vehicles last December. There are some downside risks, however, including the gloomier outlook for the world economy and the sovereign debt crisis in Europe.
Industrial production continues to show an upward movement.
Industrial production in April increased 0.2% over the previous month, registering an increase for the second consecutive month and up 13.4% year-on-year. The index in April was 95.8 (seasonally adjusted).
According to the Survey of Production Forecast in Manufacturing, production was expected to decrease by 3.2% in May and increase by 2.4% in June 2012. This survey is a useful economic indicator reflecting changing business conditions and providing clues as to where the economy might be heading in the near future.
Annual Average Monthly Consumption Expenditure in April
(1) Expenditures for Two-or-more-person Households
The average monthly consumption expenditure per two-or-more-person household for April 2012 was 301,948 yen, up 3.2% in nominal terms and up 2.6% in real terms year-on-year.
(2) Income and Expenditures for Workers' Households
The average monthly income per household stood at 469,381 yen, up 3.3% in nominal terms and up 2.7% in real terms year-on-year.
The average consumption expenditure was 339,069 yen, up 4.4% in nominal terms and up 3.8% in real terms year-on-year.
Labour Force Survey Monthly Results
The number of employed persons in April 2012 was 62.75 million, a decrease of 270,000, or 0.4%, from the same month in the previous year.
The number of unemployed persons in April 2012 was 3.15 million, a decrease of 140,000, or 4.3%, from the same month in the previous year.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.6%, up 0.1 point over the previous month.
| (10,000 persons)
||Change from previous year
|Population aged 15 years or over
|Not in labour force
|Labour force participation rate (%)
|Employment rate (%)
|Unemployment rate, original series (%)
||Change from previous month
|Unemployment rate, seasonally adjusted (%)
According to a separate report released by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, job availability improved slightly in May, with the ratio of job offers to job seekers standing at 0.79, up 0.03 points over the previous month. This figure means that there were 79 jobs available for every 100 job seekers.
Excerpts from the Annual Report on the Labour Force Survey 2011
(1) Employment rate
The 2011 employment rate was 56.6%, a 0.1 point decrease from the previous year. By gender, the employment rate was 67.8% for men, the same rate as the previous year, and 46.3% for women, a 0.1 point increase. The employment rate for people aged 15-64 years was 70.3%, a 0.2 point increase.
(2) Unemployed persons and unemployment rate
The number of unemployed persons was 2.84 million, a decrease of 330,000 from the previous year. By gender, the number of unemployed men was 1.75 million, a decrease of 220,000, and the number of unemployed women was 1.09 million, a decrease of 110,000.
The unemployment rate was 4.5%, a 0.5 point decrease from the previous year. By gender, the unemployment rate for men was 4.8%, a 0.6 point decrease, and that for women was 4.1%, a 0.4 point decrease.
(3) Unemployment rate for people aged 15-24 years
By age group, the unemployment rate for men and women aged 15-24 years was 9.3% and 7.1%, respectively, down from the previous year by 1.2 points for men and 0.9 points for women.
The consumer price index for Japan in March 2012 was 100.4 (2010=100), up 0.1% over the previous month and up 0.4% over the same month of the previous year.