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Japan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 2.9% in May 2020, up from 2.4% in May 2019, according to data from Statistics Japan.

 

The number of unemployed persons in May 2020 was 1.98 million, an increase of 330,000 from the previous year. When compared to April 2020, the unemployment rate rose 0.3%.

The number of employed persons in May 2020 was 66.56 million, a decrease of 760,000 from the previous year.

The number of regular employees at 35.34 million, no change over the year. At the same time, the number of non-regular employees, which includes temporary workers, dispatch workers, contractors and others, stood at 20.45 million, down 2.9% over the year.

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.

Analysts have pointed out that the low unemployment rate does not account for millions of people, especially women, who gave up their job during the pandemic to care for family and are not counted as a jobseeker.

Japanese law also makes it difficult for companies to hire and fire flexibly during a downturn, Munehisa Tamura, researcher from the Daiwa Institute of Research, said.

The government launched a massive economic package that includes funds to help businesses keep employees on. 4.2 million people are on this furlough system, according to government data, some 6% of the workforce. These are still technically on the payroll of their firms and so not included in the official unemployment data.

According to Agence France Presse, many temporary workers have complained they are getting paid very little or nothing at all while on the payroll.

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