Japan - Unemployment Rate

Japan: Unemployment Rate

Mnemonic LBR.IJPN
Unit Percent, SA
Adjustments Seasonally Adjusted
Data Jan 2023 2.4
Dec 2022 2.5

Series Information

Source Japan Statistics Bureau
Release Labor Force Survey
Frequency Monthly
Start Date 1/31/1953
End Date 1/31/2023

Japan: Labor

Reference Last Previous Units Frequency
Labor Force Jan 2023 6,911 6,899 Ten Thousand Persons, SA Monthly
Labor Force Employment Jan 2023 6,744 6,726 Ten Thousand Persons, SA Monthly
Total Employment Jan 2023 6,744 6,726 Ten Thousand Persons, SA Monthly
Total Employment Non-Ag Jan 2023 6,517 6,549 Ten Ths., NSA Monthly
Unemployment Jan 2023 167 171 Ten Thousand Persons, SA Monthly
Unemployment Rate Jan 2023 2.4 2.5 Percent, SA Monthly
Real Wages & Salaries 2022 Q4 274,955 275,898 Bil. Ch. 2011 JPY, SAAR Quarterly
Agriculture Employment 2017 2,320,973 2,340,886 # Annual
Wage & Salaries 2014 252,097,472 249,624,331 Mil. JPY Annual

Release Information

For Japan, the "Labor Force Survey" is conducted by the Japan Statistics Bureau (a.k.a. Statistics Bureau of Japan); it produces a Basic Tabulation (monthly and national) and Detailed Tabulation (quarterly and subnational). Concepts include working-age population (15 years and older), labor force, employment, employees, hours worked and labor dynamics; and related rates. There are breakouts by sex, age and JSIC industry.

A separate labor survey is the "Monthly Labor Survey" conducted by the Minstry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW).

National and monthly

  • Measurements:
    • 10 thousand persons (10 Ths. #)
    • Thousand persons (Ths. #)
    • 10 thousand hours (10 Ths. hours)
    • Hours (hours)
    • Days (Days)
    • Percent share (%)
  • Adjustments:
    • Seasonally adjusted (SA)
    • Not seasonally adjusted (NSA)
  • Native frequency: Monthly
  • Start date: As early as 1953m1

Subnational and quarterly, where different

  • Native frequency: Quarterly
  • Start date: As early as 1983Q1
  • Geo coverage:
    • Country
    • Region (IJPN_^^^^)
    • Prefecture (IJPN_^^)

The Labor Force Survey has been undertaken on a nation-wide scale since July 1947 following a trial period of about a year that began in September 1946.

At present, the targets of the survey are the members 15 years old and above of about 40,000 households selected at random from the whole country. These household members are approximately 100,000 in number. The Labour Force Survey asks them about their employment and unemployment status.

Survey staff in every part of Japan distribute questionnaires to randomly designated households and collect them after they have been completed.

The survey, starting in September 1946, after a trial period of about one year, is being carried out in earnest from July 1947. Then, as the designated statistical surveys by, fundamental statistics by ((2007) Law No. 53, 2007) Statistics Act from April 2009 ((1947) Act No. 18 in 1947) Statistics Act from April 1950 It is implemented as a research. In addition, in 1982, the sample expansion for regional Appendix chapter, in 2002, we have been revised to integrate the Labour Force Survey Labour Force Survey special investigation. This survey is based on a small sample size and hence the results are not truly representative.

Statistics include all persons (both sexes) ages 15 and older. Activity classification is the Japan Standard Industrial Classification (JSIC), 12th revision. Geo coverage includes whole Japan, 12 "regions", and 47 prefectures. There are two distinct sets of data:

  1. Benchmarked to the five-year population census (currently, 2015). Data is available by labor force status, marital status, status in employment, and employment by industry.
  2. Adjusted between censuses (intercensal 2010 to 2015). Data is availably by labor force status at the national and regional level

As of 2021, data are benchmarked to the 2015 national census, with intercensal-level adjustment b ???

Notes from the source regarding benchmark populations (see "Further reading" below):

The benchmark population was revised to the 2015 Census-based population estimates in January 2017. Responding to the revision, in order to remove the gaps, data from October 2010 through December 2016 have been adjusted to comparable time-series data (the intercensal-level adjustment data or the retroactive adjustment data). From October 2005 to September 2010, the figures are comparable time-series data based on the 2010 Census-based benchmark population. Therefore, the figures for those periods are different from the ones in the annual report published in each year or on tables and databases provided on e-Stat. The gap of benchmark population is approximately +350,000, the 2015 Census-based population of 15 years old and over for September 2015 minus that of the 2010 Census-based population.

That is:

  • Values from 2017m1: Benchmarked to Census 2015 population
  • 2010m10 to 2016m12: Intercensal-level adjustment
  • 2005m10 to 2010m9: Benchmarked to Census 2010 population

Seasonal adjustment is via X-12-ARIMA and (since 2013m1) X-12-regARIMA.


Like other major advanced countries, the definition of the "unemployed" used for Japan's Labour Force Survey conforms to the international standard stipulated by the International Labour Organization (ILO) to grasp the employment and unemployment status objectively. Therefore, Japan's definition of the unemployed is not narrower than that of other nations. 

The ILO defines "unemployed" as all persons above a specified age who during the reference period were:

  1. "without work", i.e. were not in paid employment or self-employment
  2. "currently available for work", i.e. were available for paid employment or self-employment
  3. "seeking work", i.e. had taken specific steps to seek paid employment or self-employment

Unemployment rate: the percentage of the unemployed to the total labor force (sum of the employed and unemployed), is calculated as follows:

  • Unemployment rate (%) = Unemployed / Total labor force x 100

Effective job offering ratio: the ratio of job openings to applicants, including part-time jobs, but excluding new graduates. A.k.a. the job-to-applicant ratio, job offers to applicant ratio. The effective job offering ratio is calculated as follows:

  • Effective job offering ratio (%) = Job openings (#) / Applicants (#)

Labor market dynamics

New recruitment number: Includes part-time jobs and excludes new graduates.


Each month, a Basic Tabulation is released, with: labor force, employed persons, employees, weekly hours of work, unemployment, unemployment rate, not in labor force, etc.

Each quarter, a Detailed Tabulation is released, with: reason for taking non-regular employment, person who changed job, duration of unemployment, person wishing to work (not in labor force), etc.

Moody's Analytics supplements

Moody's Analytics' seasonally adjusted supplements for prefecture-level data will not sum to our seasonally adjusted national counterpart. 


Each year when the average for January to March is announced, new results are added and recalculated, and the quarterly and annual average results for the past five years up to the previous year are partially revised.

Since 1982, the benchmark population used in the LFS has been revised every five years to coincide with the results of the Population Census. It was benchmarked to the 2020 Census for the Basic Tabulation upon 2022m1, and for the Detailed Tabulation upon 2022q1. The result is, by interval:

  • 2005m10 to 2010m9: are based on Census 2010
  • 2010m10 to 2015m9: are based on Census 2015
  • 2015m10 to 2021m12: have undergone "intercensal-level adjustment" or "retroactive adjustment."

In its English-language pages, JSB uses the British spelling "labour."

Due to the Great East Japan Earthquake, figures for the whole of Japan are missing from March through August 2011, and are instead reported using "supplementary-estimated figures" which are specially marked in JSB's data files.


As of 2022m11: footnotes in JSB data files, published at https://www.stat.go.jp/english/data/roudou/lngindex.htm

Further reading

At the source:

At IMF (SDDS Plus):