CHARTS: Why Japan is the best place in the world to find a job right now

Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

If you’re looking for a job in Japan at present and not having any luck, best give your résumé a tweak.

There’s an abundance of jobs available, as seen in the chart below.

It shows Japan’s jobs-to-applicants ratio, a figure derived by dividing job openings by the number of active job seekers.

At 1.4, it sits at the highest level since August 1991. Put another way, for every 100 persons looking for work, there are currently 140 positions available.

In August 2009, there were only 42 job openings for every 100 active job seekers.

That’s quite a turnaround, with better odds of employment than you’ll find in most other developed economies around the world right now.

Aging demographics have certainly helped.

Meanwhile, Japan’s unemployment rate also sits at a multi-decade low of just 3.0%, underlining just how tight labour market conditions are at present.

However, while there’s clearly demand for labour and a shortage of supply — two ingredients you’d normally associate with wage inflation — the one missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle is just that, a strong lift in wages.

According to Marcel Thieliant, an economist at Capital Economics, an increasing number of elderly workers, along with weak labour market mobility, is holding wage growth back.

“Younger people tend to find it easier to get higher pay when they change jobs,” he wrote earlier this year. “However, pay cuts remain the rule for older workers, and their rising share in total employment has kept a lid on overall wage gains.”

Thieliant also says that the bargaining power of Japanese unions has also decreased, placing a further lid on wage pressures.

While strong wage growth remains elusive, much to the dismay of Japanese policymakers w looking to boost household consumption by encouraging wage and inflationary pressures, there is tentative evidence that suggests economic conditions in the world’s third-largest economy are now beginning to improve.

Household spending, retail sales and core inflation figures for October, all released over the past week, topped expectations (albeit they continued to contract on year-on-year terms) while the advanced Q3 GDP estimate released earlier this month showed the economy expanded at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 2.2%, the fastest clip seen since the March quarter of 2015.

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