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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Japanese Employment

Working your way through the Japanese employment numers is like walking blind through a mine field, it is never clear what any of the numbers really mean. The basic classification is all those over 15. Then you have the number of those over 15 (including those over 65 and onwards) who are in work. Then you have a participation rate. But the particpate rate is over the entire over 15 population (including the most elderly elderly). The only safe number is the number of people actually employed, but even that isn't clear since it includes those in part-time and temporary employment. Now what is for sure is that the number of those employed rose last month, and sharply: from 62.6 million in March to 63.52 million in April. That seems to be a lot of jobs, almost a million in a month (unless, of course, the numbers are seasonally adjusted!!). To put this in perspective: that brings us up to the level of October last year. Before last October the numbers had been falling since the 64.53 million recorded in 1994 when the time series starts.

What to make of all this? Well it's hard to say. Last month seems to have been an incredibly good month, but I think we need more data to see what is going on. In general the number of those employed is falling, as the population ages.

Here's the link if you want to look for yourself.

Japan's unemployment rate fell to the lowest in more than six years in April and household spending rose for the first month in three, bolstering a recovery in the world's second-largest economy.

The jobless rate declined to 4.4 percent from 4.5 percent, the statistics bureau said today in Tokyo. Spending by households headed by a salaried worker climbed 3.6 percent from March, seasonally adjusted.

Job seekers in Japan now have the richest choice of offers since 1992, boosting consumer confidence and stoking sales at companies including Citizen Watch Co. Consumer spending accounted for more than half of Japan's annual 5.3 percent growth in the first quarter, fueling a recovery from a fourth recession since 1991.

Source: Bloomberg

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