Japanese unemployment levels reach a record high

Japan’s unemployment rate spiralled to a record high of 5.3 per cent in
September, according to government figures.

Over 3.57 million people are out of work in Japan, and the labour minister
called it "an emergency".

Chikara Sakaguchi blamed the effects of 11 September and the country’s mad
cow disease outbreak. Cabinet ministers vowed to step up employment measures,
including a fiscal 2001 supplementary budget to protect the economy against
worsening conditions.

Economists are predicting tough times ahead with Japanese banks trying to
dispose of large amounts of bad loans. It could spark further corporate
bankruptcies and restructuring and take a toll on employment figures.

Full-time workers were particularly affected by job losses in September,
with male unemployment rising 0.3 percentage points to 5.4 per cent, while the
rate for women climbed 0.4 percentage points to 5.2 per cent – both record

France jobless count still rising

The number of people out of work in France rose in September for the fifth
successive month, pushing the total to 9.1 per cent of the workforce.

The rise is in line with economists’ projections and highlights the
challenge faced by the government in tackling unemployment ahead of 2002’s
parliamentary and presidential elections.

Jobs are a sensitive political issue in France and the Government’s main
electoral platform in 1997 was a promise to cut unemployment sharply. Until
May, there had been a steady decline over four years.

Economists claimed the increase was due to job cuts and a drop in the
recruitment of under 25-year-olds.

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