Japan’s Jobless Rate Rises to Highest in More Than Five Years

Japan’s unemployment rate climbed to a five-year high in April and job prospects worsened, signaling household spending will weigh on the economy just as exports are showing signs of improving.

The jobless rate rose to 5 percent from 4.8 percent in March, the government statistics bureau said in Tokyo today. The ratio of positions available to each applicant dropped to 0.46 from 0.52, the lowest in a decade, the Labor Ministry said.

The most severe global economic slump since the Great Depression has crippled demand for Japanese cars and electronics, leaving manufacturers with workers and factories they no longer need. Toyota Motor Corp. and Nikon Corp. are among companies forecasting further losses this year, indicating unemployment is likely to keep rising even as exports and production begin to stabilize.

Household spending fell 1.3 percent in April, the 14th straight decline, the statistics bureau said today. Outlays by consumers make up more than half of the economy.

The number of people who received unemployment insurance rose a record 59.1 percent to 793,000 in March from a year earlier and will probably keep increasing as it’s a lagging indicator of the job market, according to the Labor Ministry.

Other data suggest the worst of the recession may be over. Exports rose in April from March, the second straight month-on- month gain. Sentiment among consumers and merchants climbed for a fourth month as economic stimulus measures took hold.

Japan’s Jobless Rate Rises to Highest in More Than Five Years

TradingEconomics.com, Bloomberg
5/28/2009 10:35:46 PM