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For additional information relating to this article, please contact:

Barbara Ruszel Economist
Tel: 902-424-1848Email:

January 30, 2018

Japan's unemployment rate edged up to 2.8 per cent in December as a slight decline in the labour force (0.09 per cent) was just outpaced by a marginal drop in employment (-0.11 per cent).  Japan's unemployment rate has averaged 2.8 per cent in 2017, the lowest annual average since 1994.

Japan's employment and labour force have generally moved at a similar pace over the last year, keeping the monthly unemployment rate stable.  Japan's labour force and employment have both been rising since 2012 after a protracted period of decline.    

Over the long term, Japan's labour force participation rate began to decline in the mid-1990s as there was a rise in the share of the Japanese population over the age of 65.  Japanese participation rates continued to decline over the next two decades, before reaching a low of 59.1 per cent in 2012.  Since then, Japan's labour force participation rate has been rising, reaching a 60.5 per cent annual average for 2017 despite a continuing increase in the share of the working age population over 65 years old.

Canada and Nova Scotia typically report higher rates of unemployment than Japan, but all exhibit a strong long run relationship between the size of the labour force and employment, with unemployment fluctuating more in short run data.  Although Japan's employment rate declined aslong with its participation rate from the mid-1990s through 2012, it has also recovered to 58.8 per cent of the population aged 15 and older.

Statistics Bureau of Japan, Statistics Canada CANSIM tables 282-0002 and 282-0087

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