Japan’s Jobless Rate Rises to 68-Month High
TOKYO (AP) _ Japan’s jobless rate jumped to 2.7 percent in October - the highest level in nearly six years - the government reported Tuesday, reflecting the deepening recession.
While unemployment in Japan remains far lower than in any other leading industrialized nation, the monthly rate was the highest since February 1988, the Prime Minister’s Office said.
The gloomy jobless report came a day after the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s main index, the Nikkei Stock Average, plunged 3.9 percent to 16,078.71, this year’s lowest closing. The Nikkei fell another 68.51 points Tuesday morning to 16,010.20.
Members of Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa’s Cabinet held an emergency meeting to discuss the worsening employment picture.
In October, the latest reporting month, unemployment rose 0.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted 2.7 percent, the statistics bureau of the Prime Minister’s Office said.
In a separate report, the Labor Ministry said the ratio of job offers to job seekers fell to 0.67 in October, from 0.69 in September. That means there were 67 openings for every 100 job applicants.
″We see that the employment situation will remain severe for some time to come,″ said Koichi Tokunaga, an official at the ministry’s Employment Policy Division.
In the July-September quarter, 46 percent of the nation’s manufacturing companies undertook staffing adjustments, including cuts in overtime and hiring of temporary workers, according to a Labor Ministry survey.
The unemployment rate remained below a postwar high of 3.1 percent recorded in May 1987. The October rise in the jobless rate followed a reading of 2.6 percent in September after staying at 2.5 percent for the previous four months.
The report said the number of jobless people in Japan rose 310,000 from September to 1.76 million.
Hit by the recession and the yen’s strength against the dollar, many Japanese companies have either shifted production overseas or are considering taking such steps.
Japan’s unemployment rate would be higher if calculated by U.S. or European methods. In Japan, members of the armed forces and people working more than one hour in the last week of the month are considered employed.