News ID: 270831
Published: 0622 GMT June 30, 2020

Japan pandemic jobless data mask woe for millions: Experts

Japan pandemic jobless data mask woe for millions: Experts
Japan's jobless rate has remained remarkably low during the coronavirus crisis. (CHARLY TRIBALLEAU)

Unlike most major global powers, Japan has been spared an explosion in unemployment during the coronavirus pandemic, despite the world's third-biggest economy suffering its first recession in more than five years.

However, economists say the situation is not as rosy as the low headline figure may suggest, with millions struggling to make ends meet on precarious temporary contracts, AFP reported.

The latest figures published Tuesday showed Japan's unemployment rate climbed to 2.9 percent in May, up 0.3 percentage points from April and the third consecutive increase.

There were 120 jobs available for every 100 jobseekers, compared with 132 in April. This was the steepest fall in this closely watched indicator since the 1974 oil crisis.

Economists forecast the unemployment rate in Japan will hit four percent by the end of the year, as the tourism and hospitality sectors suffer from border closures and people staying at home because of the virus.

Many countries would welcome an unemployment rate of "only" four percent, with the luxury of having more jobs than jobseekers.

The US unemployment rate hit 13.3 percent in May, with more than 47 million people laid off since coronavirus lockdowns began.

So why has Japan's rate stayed so low? One major explanation lies in the country's dearth of workers owing to an ageing population.

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