Japan's jobless rate hits record high
Rate of 5.7% worse than what markets expected. -AFP
TOKYO, Aug 28, 2009 (AFP) - Japan's unemployment rate rose to a record high of 5.7 percent in July as companies shed workers to cope with the fallout from the worst recession in decades, data showed Friday.
The jobless rate, which increased from 5.4 percent in June, was worse than the 5.5 percent that financial markets had expected.
It is unwelcome news for Prime Minister Taro Aso, whose long-ruling party is trailing well behind the opposition in opinion polls ahead of Sunday's general election.
The number of people out of work in July rose by 1.03 million from a year earlier to 3.59 million, increasing for a ninth straight month, the government said.
Official figures last week showed the world's second largest economy returned to positive growth for the first time in five quarters, limping out of recession.
But firms are still seeking to recover from heavy financial losses.
Many Japanese companies, particularly exporters, have moved swiftly to cut jobs and production in response to a slump in demand caused by the global economic downturn.
There were only 42 job offers for every 100 job seekers in July, a record low and down from 43 in June, the labour ministry said.
The weak labour market is weighing on household spending, which fell 2.0 percent in July from a year earlier, reversing a 0.2 percent rise in June, separate data showed.
There were also signs of deepening deflation as core consumer prices dropped 2.2 percent in July from a year earlier - the fastest pace on record.
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