Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

Japan has more vacancies than people looking for work (still)

Graphic showing the number of people in Japan looking for work per open vacancy.

In Japan there are more active job openings than people looking for work. In December 2022, there were 134 openings for regular work per 100 job seekers.

Good for people looking for work (possibly).

Not so good for businesses trying to recruit. A report earlier in the week suggested a large proportion of firms would like to pay more, but can’t afford it, or are nervous about the economic outlook. Which begs the question whether dramatic moves by Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing to hike wages up to 40% is a bold act of leadership or an outlier to pool more staff.

An off-the-cuff remark from my wife also piqued my interest. Many of her friends are turning down or not seeking promotions. Extra pay isn’t enough to tease them into working longer hours and taking on more stress. This needs a bit more research.

However, I wonder if there is a fair amount of stress building in Japan inc. Being understaffed isn’t sustainable, and unless fundamental issues around work environments, pay and productivity aren’t addressed, something is going to go wrong. And no, I don’t think importing new bodies from foreign shores is a sustainable solution.

It’s long past time Japan invested in improving how its businesses work.

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My name is Ross Hori

I'm a freelance writer, designer and photographer. By day I create articles, features and reports. At night I take photos and write fiction. Find out more.