The number of people who believe the economy is worse off than the previous year jumped to 58 percent in March from 27.4 percent six months before, according to a Bank of Japan survey released Wednesday.

The diffusion index — the percentage of those who think the economy is on an upswing minus those who think the opposite — was minus 56.5, a sharp drop from the minus 20.6 recorded in September. The result is the third lowest since the biannual survey began in March 1996.

People who said that the economy would get worse in one year rose to 26.1 percent, more than doubling the 12.1 percent who thought similarly in the previous survey.

The survey was conducted between March 16 and March 26, and polled 4,000 people, with 79.3 percent responding.

In contrast, the index comparing people who said life was harder to those who said the opposite was minus 42.6, only slightly lower than minus 39.4 in the previous survey. The index measuring changes in income grew slightly to minus 35 from September’s 34.7.

Of those polled, 79.9 percent fear they will lose their jobs or suffer pay cuts in the future, up from 78.1 percent, while 43 percent say they are cutting costs, up from 38.9 percent.

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