Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Japan's economic woes continue: Unemployment rising, TEPCO stocks now at junk status

Economic data and analysis out of Japan Tuesday underscore the struggles in the world's third largest economy, and how the lack of clear policy is adding to the problems.

Japan's unemployment rate rose to 4.7% in April, up 0.1% from March. It was the first jump in unemployment in six months in the wake of the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, reported Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. The data did not factor in three hardest hit prefectures in the tsunami region: Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima. Those areas saw massive infrastructure and job losses, suggesting the actual unemployment in the country is worse than today's figures suggest.

Separate employment data showed the number of jobs available dropped for the first time in 17 months. The number of jobs available deteriorated to 0.61 in April from 0.63 in March. The figures from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare show only 61 jobs are available for every 100 job seekers.

The labor department also reported average wages in Japan shrank last month for the second straight month, down 1.4% as compared to the year before. Average spending by Japanese households fell by 3.0% last month as compared to the year before. (read more)