The economic outlook of workers with jobs particularly sensitive to economic shifts showed an improvement in April for the first turnaround in three months, the Cabinet Office said Thursday.

The index gauging the so-called economy watchers’ views on the economy a few months ahead rose 5.3 points to 48.1 — the largest point gain since the monthly survey began in January 2000, the office said. However, it stayed below the key level of 50 for the seventh straight month.

The economy watchers improved their outlook after witnessing increases in hotel reservations and visitors to housing exhibitions, a government economist said.

The economist attributed the improvement partly to the increased expectations generated when Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi took power in April.

While the index measuring economy watchers’ views on the current state of the economy rose 0.8 point to 41.1 for the second consecutive month, it stayed below 50 for the ninth successive month.

An index reading of 50 indicates that watchers nationwide in 11 business sectors viewed the economy as unchanged on average compared with three months earlier.

The official said that although the index measuring current economic conditions rose on an increase in visitors to shopping centers and clothing stores, the overall margin of gain was small because the index for workers in jobs-placement fields plummeted to a record low.

While some workers at home appliance discount stores said they are suffering a reaction to the sales spike seen before the April enforcement of an electronic appliances recycling law, hotel workers, taxi drivers and real estate workers were forecasting an increase in customers in two to three months.

The office conducted the poll on 1,500 workers in late April, of whom 89.8 percent responded.

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