The nation's unemployment rate in 1998 was at its highest-ever level. The 1998 Labor Force Survey published by the MCA revealed that the average unemployment rate in 1998 was 4.1 percent, the highest recorded since 1953 when the government started compiling its statistics on unemployment. The nation's average unemployment rate in 1997 was 3.4 percent and the increase in 1998 represented the largest annual rise since 1954.
The population of 15 years old and over stood at around 107.28 million, an increase of 670,000 over 1997. Of the 107.28 million, 65.14 million were employed (down 430,000 from 1997), 2.79 million were unemployed (an increase of 490,000), and 29.24 million (an increase of 610,000) were not in the labor force. The decrease in the number of those employed and the increase in the number of unemployed were both record figures. The male labor force (both employed and unemployed) numbered approximately 40.26 million, a decrease of about 10,000 from a year earlier, while the female labor force totaled some 27.67 million, an increase of about 70,000. The labor force participation rate for the population stood at 63.3 percent, 77.3 percent for men and 50.1 percent for women.
By employment status and industry, the number of employees not in agriculture and forestry was about 53.34 million, a drop of about 240,000 from the previous year. This was the first decrease ever in this sector. Employed people in agriculture and forestry numbered 3.17 million, a drop of 70,000 from the previous year. Regular employees numbered 47.26 million (a drop of 420,000), another first decline since the government began compiling these statistics.
The Ministry of Labour's Monthly Labor Survey for 1998 revealed that regular workers at establishments with five or more employees numbered 41.323 million, up 0.1 percent from 1997. Of that figure, 34.602 million were general workers (down 0.8% from 1997), and 6.721 million were part-time workers (up 4.4% from 1997).
Average monthly wages totaled ¥366,481 (down 1.3% from 1997), the first drop ever in this figure. Of total wages, ¥287,853 were basic wages (down 0.3%), non-scheduled wages were ¥18,127 (down 7.1%), and various allowances were ¥78,628 (down 5.0%). Real wages fell 2.0 percent from the previous year.
Monthly working hours totaled 155.9 (down 1.1%). Of the total hours, non-scheduled hours worked totaled 9.6 (down 7.6%), while scheduled hours worked totaled 146.3 (down 0.6%). Non-scheduled hours worked in manufacturing fell by 12 hours (down 15.0%).
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