In Japan, new signs of worsening economy
Thursday, 31 July 2008

AP, TOKYO -- Japan's economy showed more signs of deterioration as government data revealed Tuesday that the unemployment rate inched up and consumers tightened their purse strings amid rising food and oil prices.

Japan's jobless rate in June climbed to 4.1 percent from 4.0 percent in May, the highest level since last September, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said.

In another sign, the ministry said Japan's household spending in June dropped 1.8 percent from a year earlier, marking the fourth consecutive monthly decline.

Global rises in energy and food prices prompted consumers to be thrifty in those areas. Household spending on food dropped 3.6 percent, while outlays for clothing dropped 13.8 percent from a year earlier. Health and medical expenses also shrank 11.9 percent, according to the ministry report.

Household spending is closely monitored as a key indicator of personal spending, which accounts for more than half of Japan's gross domestic product.

The total number of jobless in June stood at 2.65 million, up by 240,000 from a year ago, marking the third consecutive year-on-year increase, the ministry said.

The jobless rate for men was at 4.2 percent, unchanged from the previous month, while the rate for women rose to 4.0 percent from 3.7 percent in May, it said.

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