May 1, 2009

Japan’s jobless rate at four-year high

The jobless rate in Japan in March rose to 4.8 percent, a four-year high, the government said Friday.

Statistics for March were the latest available.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said Japan's unemployment rate rose by a higher-than-expected 0.4 percentage point from February, the highest since March 1967, Kyodo reported.

The average rate for the year through March 31 was equal to the rate in fiscal 2006, government officials said.

March jobless rolls swelled 1.06 million, up 500,000 from the previous month.

So far in 2009, the number of unemployed workers increased 670,000 from the same period a year ago to 3.35 million, Kyodo said.

Norio Miyagawa, an economist at the Shinko Research Institute, said Japan's jobless rate likely will trend higher through the first half of 2010, possibly topping 6 percent.

Compared with the United States, for example, Japan's employment adjustment is not so drastic, Miyagawa said. More job cuts are expected in the coming months. It is inevitable that job figures further worsen as they normally lag far behind economic trends.