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Economy in Brief

More Signs of Recessions in Japan
by y Louise Curley September 30, 2008

Japanese gross domestic product declined at an annual rate of 2.96% in the second quarter of this year after having risen at an annual rate of 2.76% in the first quarter. Monthly data released recently for the third quarter suggest another down quarter.

After rising 1.3% in July, Japanese industrial production declined 3.5% in August, the fastest decline in five years. The Family Income and Expenditure Survey revealed that households reduced spending in August by 4.7%. The household expenditure series, however, is extremely volatile so the year- over- year changes are, perhaps, better indicators of the trend than the month- to- month changes. The month- to- month changes in the household expenditures and in industrial production are shown in the first chart and the year- over- year changes in the second chart.

Another ominous sign is the rise in unemployment rate in August. It is now 4.2%, the highest level since June 2006 as can be seen in the third chart.

JAPAN  Aug 08 Jun  08  Jul   07  M/M % chg  Y/Y % chg  2007 2006 2005
Industrial Production (2005=100) 104.5 108.3 109.7 -3.51 -4.74 107.1 104.3 100.1
Household Expenditures (Thous Yen)   291.3 299.3 294.0 -2.69 -0.94 297.1 295.3 300.9
Unemployment (10,000 persons) 275 264 252 4.17 91.3 256 275 294
Unemployment Rate (%) 4.2 4.0 3.8 0.2* 0.4* 3.9 4.1 4.4
* Percentage point change
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