Unemployment Up, Household Spending Falls In Japan

Japan unemployment upBy Tomoko A. Hosaka

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's jobless rate climbed for the first time in three months in October while household spending and incomes fell, adding to evidence that the country's post-disaster rebound is waning.

Government figures released Tuesday showed the unemployment rate adjusted for seasonal variations had jumped to 4.5 percent from 4.1 percent in September. Other recent indicators show slowdowns in exports and industrial production in the face of a strong yen and a sputtering global economy.

Japan's economy expanded at an annualized rate of 6 percent in the July-September quarter in an impressive comeback from the March earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident. But economists have said such robust growth in the world's No. 3 economy is unsustainable.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said in a report Monday that Japan's "pace of recovery is now moderating."

The latest labor report is the second since September to include data from the three prefectures hardest hit by the disaster - Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima. Between March and August, the government omitted the regions because of difficulties in gathering data.

Separately, the government's monthly report on households showed that families are tightening their budgets.

Average household spending in October retreated 0.4 percent from a year earlier to 285,605 yen ($3,650). Average monthly household income declined 1.8 percent in real terms to 479,749 yen ($6,135).

The OECD said Japan's economy should benefit next year from improved financial conditions and the government's planned reconstruction spending. It expects the gross domestic product to grow 2 percent in 2012.

"Soft global growth and the appreciation of the real exchange rate are, however, likely to check the pace of the upturn," the OECD said.

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