Japan’s job availability hits 6-year low in July

Job seekers head to a career fair hosted by Mynavi Corp. in Tokyo on July 7, 2020. PHOTO: Kyodo

TOKYO  —  Japan’s job availability fell to a six-year low and employment conditions worsened in July, government data showed Tuesday, highlighting the severe blow dealt to workers by the coronavirus pandemic.

The job availability ratio dropped to 1.08 from 1.11 in June, falling for the seventh straight month to the lowest level since April 2014, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. The ratio means there were 108 openings for every 100 job seekers.

The unemployment rate rose to 2.9 percent from 2.8 percent in June, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

The jobs data painted a bleak picture of an economy that is struggling to emerge from recession after the coronavirus outbreak led to a slowdown of activity and a record economic contraction in the April-June quarter.

Despite the lifting of a state of emergency in May, economic activity has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels, making the outlook uncertain.

The services sector continues to struggle, with the latest data showing new job offers by hotels and restaurants plunging 44.0 percent from a year ago before seasonal adjustment. The number of offers in the manufacturing sector saw a 40.9 percent decline.

The reports demonstrate the challenge facing the successor to outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as jobs data are a lagging indicator of economic health. The government has been providing subsidies to companies to keep people employed amid the virus’ spread.

“We are likely to see a bigger impact on employment going forward,” said Toru Suehiro, senior market economist at Mizuho Securities Co.–Kyodo

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