Asia Minute: Japan’s Uneven Economy: Similarities with Hawai‘i?

Apr 3, 2017

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Hawai‘i and Japan share a number of cultural and economic connections. One you might not think about is unemployment. The jobless rate is relatively low in both places—but that doesn’t mean all is well with the economy. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

 


The last time the unemployment rate was this low in Japan; American television was dominated by the O.J. Simpson trial.

The latest figures show a jobless rate of 2.8 percent. That’s a 22 year low.

It’s the same level as Hawai‘i—and those local numbers match a ten year low.

But just as Hawai‘i remains plagued by high costs and relatively low wages, Japan’s workers face other challenges and an economy that is gradually strengthening, but with some uneven growth.

As for future prospects, this is the second month of recruiting season for college students in Japan who will graduate next spring. Job offers will start going out in early June.

On the surface, it seems like a bullish market for prospective grads. The Labor Ministry reports that for every 100 job seekers, there are 143 jobs available.

But wages are stagnant and consumers are cautious.

So far, that has not hit Hawai‘i’s tourism industry. Visitor arrivals and spending from Japan have been rising in 2017.

But another government report out Friday shows household spending in Japan has now fallen every month for a year.