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“Manpower shortage,” the biggest concern for 2018 economy

- For the first time in four years, over 20% anticipate an economic recovery -

According to GDP Estimates for July - September 2017 (second preliminary estimates) that were announced on December 8, 2017, the quarterly growth rate was up 0.6% from the previous quarter (April - June). This amounts to an annualized growth rate of 2.5% and marks the seven consecutive quarter of growth. In addition, other encouraging data (such as increase in exports and an upward trend in the ratio of active job openings) was also announced. On the other hand, personal consumption was reported as sluggish, due in part to adverse weather conditions, and a disparity in business confidence was noted in some industries/areas.

Accordingly, Teikoku Data Bank (TDB) conducted a survey seeking the views of companies with regard to 2017 economic trends as well as the 2018 economic outlook. This survey was conducted at the time of the TDB Economic Trends Research (November 2017). This is the twelfth year of TDB’s annual economic outlook survey.

*Survey Period: October 18 - 31, 2017; Companies Surveyed: 23,235; Valid Responses: 10,214 (Response Rate: 44.0%).

*Details of this survey can be found on the dedicated Economic Trend Survey HP (

Survey Results (Summary)

1. The percentage of respondents who felt that 2017 economy was in the “recovery”phase was 21.2%, 15.5 points up from the previous survey (conducted in November 2016). For the first time in the last four years, the rate exceeded 20%. On another front, 49.0% felt that the economy was “stagnant,” falling below 50% for the first time in three years. Only 9.2% thought the economy was in a “downturn,” marking a single digit for the first time in four years.

2. As for the 2018 economic outlook, 20.3% of respondents anticipate a “recovery,” an increase from 11.0% recorded in the 2017 outlook survey. Although the percentage of respondents who anticipate a “stagnant” economy increased from the previous survey, respondents who anticipate “downturn” decreased (to 12.3%). The survey results also indicated that the number of companies that expect the economy to grow increased from the previous survey.

3. “Manpower shortage” was the biggest concern for the 2018 economy (47.9%, up 19.5 from the previous survey), followed by “(increasing) crude oil/material prices” and “consumption tax measures.” The percentage of respondents who pointed to “geopolitical risk” increased sharply (to 19.1%) due to the situation in the Middle East and East Asia. Concerns over the “US economy,” which was of most concern in the previous survey, drastically decreased to 14.1% in the current survey (27.7 point decrease from the previous survey).

4. As for necessary policies for economic recovery, the top three policies were all consumption related; specifically, “an increase in consumer spending” and an “income increase,” both exceeded 40%. “Personal tax cut” marked over 30%, followed by “enterprise tax cut” and “resolution of the pension problem (eliminating concerns for the future).” Approximately 20% of respondents considered “support for childbirth/care” and “resolution of elderly nursing care issues” as important policies. One out of three respondents who are short of manpower sought enactment of “employment measures.”


1.Research Subjects(Companies Researched 23,212; Valid responses: 10,105 ; Response rate: 43.5%)

2.Research Items

*Business Confidence (current, in 3 months, in 6 months, in 1 year)

*Business Conditions (sales, purchasing and selling unit price, inventory, capacity utilization ratio, number of employees, overtime work hours)

3.Research Period and Methodology

Internet-based survey conducted November 16 – 30 2017

The explanation of the Economic Diffusion Index

Research Purpose/Researched Terms

TDB Economic Trend Research (started from May 2002) is a monthly statistical survey conducted for over 20,000 nationwide corporations on their general business activities including the current condition and future outlook of the industry business performance and operating climate. The primary purpose of such a survey is to assess the current state of Japan’s economy.

Selection of the Subject Corporations

Companies of all sizes in all domestic industries are eligible to participate in the survey.

DI Formula The DI (Diffusion Index) is calculated by attaching a number (in parenthesis in the diagram below) to each of seven possible responses. Then multiplying the percentage of each response by the appropriate number, and adding the results.

A DI over 50 is in the range of “Good.” A score under 50 is “Bad.” The number 50 is the dividing point (“Neither Good or Bad”). All numbers are rounded off to the hundredth. It should be noted that no weight is given to a company’s responses based on its size. Calculations are made according to a “one company, one vote” rule.

For example, all corporations rated ‘Very Good’.


All corporations rated ‘Neither Good nor Bad’.


Size Classification

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