Regional jobs program coming up short

A government subsidy program aimed at boosting regional employment has helped create some temporary jobs but hasn’t been much help in terms of regular hiring, labor ministry officials said Monday.

Hoping to stem rising unemployment, the national government in September 2001 decided to establish the special subsidy program for local governments, setting aside 8.9 billion yen for the January-March period.

The program helped 23,000 people find temporary jobs, but only 362 people were able to land regular jobs.

The figures suggest there are limits to the national government’s approach. Nevertheless, it has instructed local governments to step up efforts to create regular jobs.

Under the program, the government will spend 350 billion yen over a three-year period that began April 1.

This fiscal year, 140 billion yen has been earmarked in a bid to create 140,000 jobs.

According to the plan, local governments will boost employment opportunities by either hiring workers directly as assistant schoolteachers or by contracting out public services such as tourism promotion to private-sector firms.