Labor crunch risks derailing Japan's stumbling economic recovery

Nikkei -- Jul 29
Japan has more job vacancies than applicants, making it a great place to be a job hunter. But a chronic labor shortage, in a country with a shrinking working-age population, is weighing on the prospects for a recovery from the pandemic-induced slowdown.

Data released Friday showed there are 1.27 positions open for each job seeker in Japan, the highest figure in around two years. The ratio has crept up over the past seven months, indicating that hiring is increasing across industries. The hotel and restaurant sector and manufacturing, in particular, have added positions.

Shoppers are gradually returning to brick-and-mortar stores as the government shifts from trying to stifle the spread of COVID-19 to living with it. Even the current surge in infections nationwide to record highs has not moved authorities to impose movement restrictions or limit restaurant operating hours.

But economists say Japan may not have enough workers to sustain the recovery. Many people who want to work are already in employment, leaving little scope to further raise the labor participation rate. Significantly, many women and older men -- demographics that have become more active in the workforce over the past decade -- have jobs. ...continue reading

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