Jobs with Labor Shortages in Japan, Ranked (2019) January 2020 Update
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
2020 statistics on Japan's labor market, the industries with extreme shortages, and those without shortages at all.
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare puts out a monthly ratio comparing the number of job openings to the number of job applicants. This ratio is calculated based on statistics from Hello Work (the employment service center operated by the Japanese government). Using the number of job applicants at Hello Work the monthly statistics show an analysis on topics like recruitment status and job seeking.
Despite many industries suffering from labor shortage in Japan, surprisingly there actually are industries that do not have labor shortages. Presented below are the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare's statistics on the top 20 industries with labor shortages and top 10 industries WITHOUT labor shortages.
Numbers greater than 1 indicate a labor shortage in the industry, and numbers less than 1 indicate a surplus of labor in the industry. The numbers show a ratio of job openings to job applications.
In other words, the higher the ratio, the higher the labor shortage, and vice versa.
(The data below is from September 2018)
Top 20 Industries with Labor Shortages
Framing construction work 12.40
Architecture/civil engineering/surveying experts 7.34
Civil engineering 6.33
Clerical work outside the office 5.23
Physicians, pharmacists, etc. 4.66
Personal hygiene services (Barbers, etc.) 4.46
Machine maintenance and repair 4.25
Nursing care 3.75
Transportation/postal service administration 3.66
Social welfare professionals 3.58
Automobile drivers 3.28
Health care experts 3.27
Hospitality/Food service 3.08
Food and drink preparation 3.07
Metal manufacturing 2.86
Top 10 industries WITHOUT a Labor Shortage
Other transportation industries 0.20
General clerical work 0.36
Artists, designers 0.39
Equipment operation for use in business 0.49
Manufacturing engineers 0.71
Ship and aircraft drivers 0.74
Other technical professions 0.78
Plant and equipment control (machine assembly) 0.81
Business and sales related office work 0.91
Management of housing facility establishment/buildings, etc. 0.92
Labor shortages have had detrimental impacts on many businesses. For example:
Businesses have had not choice but to cut operational hours
Businesses have had to refuse orders because of the lack of manpower to complete them
Overall management of the business has suffered
The labor shortage's adverse effect on business is clear, but there population decline in Japan has even more dire consequences to the country. The root cause of Japan's labor shortage is the ageing population and the decreased number of young people in the country. Of course older people can still work, and it's not uncommon in Japan for individuals to work past the age of 65, but the post-war labor system in Japan was designed for people to retire at 65 and start living on a pension.
One of our recent Japanese language articles, “The Median Age in Japan vs the World,” (Japanese only) showed that Japan’s population pyramid is as shown below (if this can be called a “pyramid”...):
Present statistics show that, more than 1 in 4 people in Japan are considered elderly (over the age of 65).
Currently 2 working people support the pension payments of 1 elderly person.
Although, the percentage of people over 65 is increasing, and fast approaching is the day that the day that 1 in 3 people in Japan will be over 65.
The projections show that if birth rates continue to decline and the labor force is not expanded (e.g. having more women in the workplace, or being more open to foreigners working in Japan), soon 1.3 working people will have to support the pension payments of 1 elderly person.
According to Seniorguide.jp (Japanese only), the average pension paid per month is ¥55,000 for the national pension, ¥147,000 for the welfare pension.
Japan's only way forward is to increase the labor force to ease the burden on the working population. (To understand how the Japanese pension system works click here.)
About the Author
I've been in love with Japan since I was twelve years old. After studying at Kansei Gakuin University and teaching for three years under the protection of Mount Tate in scenic Toyama prefecture (where you'll find the most beautiful Starbucks in the world), I returned stateside to attend Kent State University to get my Masters in Japanese Translation. Now I've been given the wonderful opportunity to intern at IZANAU for what's sure to be a glorious summer.