There's a ridiculously large number of jobs available for those seeking work in Japan

Phil Walter/Getty Images

You’d be pretty chuffed if you were looking for a job in Japan right now.

Unemployment sits at ultra-low levels while the ratio of jobs per job seeker just hit the highest level since the mid-1970’s.

Good odds for jobseekers in anyone’s language.

According to figures released by the Japanese government earlier today, the nation’s unemployment rate held steady at 2.8% in April, equaling the lowest level that it’s been since June 1994.

Not only is unemployment ridiculously low, the jobs to applicants ratio — a figure derived by simply dividing the number of job opening to current job seekers — jumped to 1.48 from 1.45 in April, leaving it at the highest level since February 1974.

Put another way, for every 100 people seeking work, there are currently 148 positions available.

That’s the kind of ratio unemployed workers in other advanced economies could only dream of.

While finding a job based on that metric is now easier than at any point in the past four decades, those who find employment shouldn’t expect a hefty pay increase anytime soon.

It’s the one feature in an otherwise extremely tight labour market that just won’t budge — wage growth.

And not only are wages failing to grow, they’re actually going backwards.

According to data released by the Japanese government earlier this month, nominal wages fell by 0.4% to ¥277,512 per worker in the year to March this year.

Adjusting for inflation, real wage growth fared even worse, sliding by 0.8% over the same period.

While a 1.9% drop in average hours worked per employee contributed to the headline fall, it still doesn’t fully explain why wages aren’t growing despite tight labour market conditions.

It’s a conundrum, and one that policymakers at the Bank of Japan need to solve if they want to stir inflationary pressures back to its 2% medium-term target.

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