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Economic and Labour Situation in Japan (February 2013)

Following the general election in December 2012, the Japanese yen started falling in value against the US dollar after it became clear the new government led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would pursue a bold fiscal policy and credit easing.
Although this trend toward a weaker yen is a welcome development for exporting companies, it is slowly beginning to cast a shadow on family budgets, pushing up the price of gasoline and other daily necessities.

Industrial Production
Industrial production shows signs of having bottomed out. In December 2012 it increased by 2.5% over the previous month, registering an increase for the first time in two months and up 7.8% year-on-year. The index in December was 88.9 (seasonally adjusted).
Industries that mainly contributed to the increase were as follows: (1) transport equipment, (2) general machinery, and (3) electrical machinery, in that order.
Commodities that mainly contributed to the increase were as follows: (1) large passenger cars, (2) semiconductor products machinery, and (3) drive, transmission, and control parts, in that order.
According to the Survey of Production Forecast in Manufacturing, production was expected to increase by 2.6% in January and by 2.3% in February.
For the 12 months through December 2012, the unadjusted index of output at factories and mines dropped 0.3%, reflecting severe external economic conditions amid the euro zone debt crisis and slowdown of the Chinese economy. The annual decline followed a 2.3% fall in 2011, when supply chains were disrupted by the massive earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.

Family Income and Expenditure Survey in December
(1) Expenditure for Two-or-More-Person Households
The average monthly consumption expenditure per two-or-more-person household in December 2012 was 325,492 yen, down 0.8% in nominal terms and down 0.7% in real terms year-on-year.
(2) Income and Expenditure for Workers' Households
The average monthly income per household stood at 902,928 yen, up 1.0% in nominal terms and up 1.1% in real terms year-on-year.
The average consumption expenditure was 359,482 yen, up 2.1% in nominal terms and up 2.2% in real terms year-on-year.

Labour Force Survey Monthly Results
(1) Employment
The number of employed persons in December 2012 was 62.28 million, a decrease of 380,000, or 0.6%, from the same month in the previous year.
(2) Unemployment
The number of unemployed persons in December 2012 was 2.59 million, a decrease of 170,000, or 6.2%, from the same month in the previous year.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.2%, up 0.1 points over the previous month.

(10,000 persons)
  December figures Change from previous year
Population aged 15 years or over 11,093 -13 -0.1
Labour force 6,486 -56 -0.9
Employed persons 6,228 -38 -0.6
Employees 5,490 -38 -0.7
Unemployed persons 259 -17 -6.2
Not in labour force 4,604 41 0.9
Labour force participation rate (%) 58.5 -0.4 -
Employment rate (%) 56.1 -0.3 -
Unemployment rate, original series (%) 4.0 -0.2 -
  Current month Change from previous month
Unemployment rate, seasonally adjusted (%) 4.2 0.1 -
Summary of Annual Average Results for 2012
The average unemployment rate in 2012 was 4.3%, up 0.1points over the previous year.
(10,000 persons)
  Actual figures Change from 2011
Population aged 15 years or over 11,098 -13 -0.1
Labour force 6,555 -36 -0.5
  Employed persons 6,270 -19 -0.3
  Unemployed persons 285 -17 -5.6
Not in labour force 4,540 23 0.5
Unemployment rate, original series (%) 4.3 -0.3 -
Employment rate, original series (%) 56.5 0.0 -

According to a separate report released by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, job availability in December 2012 was up 0.02 points over the previous month, with the ratio of job offers to jobseekers standing at 0.82. This figure means that there were 82 jobs available for every 100 jobseekers.

Consumer Prices
The consumer price index in Japan in December 2012 was 99.3 (2010=100), the same level as in the previous month and down 0.1% from the same month in the previous year.
Japan's consumer price index for all items in 2012 was 99.7 (2010=100), the same level as in the previous year.

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