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Japan Table of Contents


The Evolving Occupational Structure

As late as 1955, some 40 percent of the labor force still worked in agriculture, but this figure had declined to 17 percent by 1970 and to 7.2 percent by 1990. The government estimated in the late 1980s that this figure would decline to 4.9 percent by 2000, as Japan imported more and more of its food and small family farms disappeared.

Japan's economic growth in the 1960s and 1970s was based on the rapid expansion of heavy manufacturing in such areas as automobiles, steel, shipbuilding, chemicals, and electronics. The secondary sector (manufacturing, construction, and mining) expanded to 35.6 percent of the work force by 1970. By the late 1970s, however, the Japanese economy began to move away from heavy manufacturing toward a more service-oriented (tertiary sector) base. During the 1980s, jobs in wholesaling, retailing, finance and insurance, real estate, transportation, communications, and government grew rapidly, while secondary-sector employment remained stable. The tertiary sector grew from 47 percent of the work force in 1970 to 59.2 percent in 1990 and was expected to grow to 62 percent by 2000, when the secondary sector will probably employ about one-third of Japan's workers.

Data as of January 1994