By Yoshifumi Takemoto
TOKYO, Oct 2 (Reuters) – Japan’s unemployment rate rose in August to its highest in over three years and job availability fell to a more than six-year low, government data showed on Friday, indicating damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic persisted through the month.
The figures come after new prime minister Yoshihide Suga pledged to protect jobs, keep companies in business and help the economy recover from the impact of measures taken to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
They also dull any optimism brought by recent data such as factory output and business sentiment which offered signs of economic recovery.
Japan’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate rose to 3.0% in August, the highest since May 2017, labour ministry data showed. The result met analysts’ median forecast of 3.0%.
The jobs-to-applicants ratio fell to 1.04, matching a level last seen in January 2014. It compared with 1.08 in July, and a median forecast of 1.05.
Worsening conditions in the jobs market is likely to add pressure to the government to offer further support for small and mid-sized firms to help prevent further job losses.
The economy logged its worst post-war contraction in the second quarter of the year as the coronavirus outbreak jolted both external and domestic demand.
(Reporting by Yoshifumi Takemoto; Writing by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Christopher Cushing)
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