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Economic and Labour Situation in Japan (January 2016)

2015 Basic Survey of Trade Unions
The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) released the results of its 2015 Basic Survey of Trade Unions on December 24, 2015. As of June 30, 2015, the number of "single" and "unit" unions in Japan was 24,983, and the total number of their members was 9,882,000. Compared to the previous year, the number of trade unions had decreased by 296, but their membership had increased by 33,000 (0.3%).

The estimated unionization ratio (the ratio of union members to the total number of employed persons) was 17.4%, down 0.1% from the previous year. The number of female union members was 3,120,000, an increase of 66,000 (2.2%), and the estimated female unionization ratio (the ratio of female union members to the total number of employed women) was 12.5%.

The number of part-time workers who belonged to unions was 1,025,000, an increase of 55,000 (5.7%) over the previous year. Part-time workers accounted for 10.4% of all union members, and their estimated unionization ratio was 7.0%. Both of these ratios were the highest ever.

Industrial Production
Industrial production is fluctuating indecisively. In November industrial production was down by 1.0% from the previous month, registering a decrease for the first time in three months, but year-on-year it marked a rise of 1.6%. The index in November was 97.8 (seasonally adjusted).

Industries that mainly contributed to the decrease were as follows: (1) general-purpose, production, and business-oriented machinery, (2) chemicals (excl. drugs), and (3) fabricated metals, in that order.

According to the Survey of Production Forecast in Manufacturing, production was expected to increase by 0.9% in December and by 6.0% in January.

Family Income and Expenditure Survey in November
(1) Expenditure for Two-or-More-Person Households
The average monthly consumption expenditure per two-or-more-person household in November was 273,268 yen, down 2.5% in nominal terms and down 2.9% in real terms year-on-year.

(2) Income and Expenditure for Workers' Households
The average monthly income per household stood at 425,692 yen, down 1.4% in nominal terms and down 1.8% in real terms year-on-year. The average consumption expenditure was 294,905 yen, down 3.7% in nominal terms and down 4.1% in real terms year-on-year, reflecting the weak growth of wages.

Labour Force Survey Monthly Results
The employment situation is on a recovery trend.
(1) Employment
The number of employed persons in November was 63.79 million, an increase of 80,000, or 0.1%, over the previous year.

(2) Unemployment
The number of unemployed persons in November was 2.09 million, a decrease of 100,000, or 4.6%, from the same month in the previous year. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in November was 3.3%. This figure marked a 0.2 percentage point rise from 3.1% in October. The unemployment rates for men and women were 3.5% and 3.1%, respectively.

(10,000 persons)
  November figures Change from previous year
Population aged 15 years or over 11,082 -3 0.0
Labour force 6,588 -2 0.0
Employed persons 6,379 8 0.1
Employees 5,676 39 0.7
Unemployed persons 209 -10 -4.6
Not in labour force 4,487 -2 0.0
Labour force participation rate (%) 59.4 0.0
Employment rate (%) 57.6 0.1
Unemployment rate, original series (%) 3.2 -0.1
  Current month Change from previous month
Unemployment rate, seasonally adjusted (%) 3.3 0.2

Japan's job availability in November marked the best level in 23 years and 10 months, with the ratio of job offers to jobseekers standing at 1.25. This figure means that there were 125 jobs available for every 100 jobseekers.

Consumer Prices
The consumer price index in November was 103.5 (2010 = 100), down 0.3 points from the previous month but up 0.3% over the same month of the previous year.

November 2015
Index Monthly
change (%)
change (%)
All items 103.5 -0.3 0.3
All items, less fresh food 103.4 0.0 0.1
All items, less food (less alcoholic beverages) and energy 101.7 0.0 0.9
All items, less imputed rent 104.5 -0.4 0.4
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