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Japan’s labor market has achieved full employment over the past two years. Unemployment has declined over the past two years to below 3 percent—close to the levels of the 1980s and early 1990s—after peaking at 5.4 percent in 2012. Currently, most unemployed people are either those who quit jobs voluntarily or who reached retirement age and/or completed temporary labor contracts.

The lower number of laid-off workers indicates a growing labor shortage, which is already prevalent among small and medium-size enterprises. The shortage stems from a steady drop in the working age population (15 to 64 years old) since the mid-’90s and moderate economic growth, inviting working age housewives and people over the age of 65 to participate in the labor market.

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