August 27, 2009

Japan’s jobless rate hits all-time high

Japan's jobless rate rose to a record high 5.7 percent in July despite recent signs of economic recovery, the government said Friday.

The July figure, up from 5.4 percent in June, breaks the previous post-World War II record of 5.5 percent, set in April 2003.

The rising jobless rate is likely to be another setback for the already embattled Prime Minister Taro Aso's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which faces elections Sunday, analysts told Kyodo News. Polls show the opposition Democratic Party of Japan is set for a landslide win.

The July numbers showed 3.59 million people had no jobs, up 1.03 million, or 40.2 percent, from the same period last year. It marked the ninth straight month of increases in the jobless rate, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said in a preliminary report.

There were only 42 job offers for every 100 job seekers in July, a new low for the third straight month, showing employment conditions are worsening, Kyodo said.

Earlier this month, the government reported Japan's gross domestic product grew in the quarter that ended in June, the first such gain in the past five quarters. The economy also was reported to have come out of its recession as a result of export growth and the government's stimulus package.

However, analysts said the jobless numbers indicated businesses, especially manufacturers, are not yet ready to ease job cuts.