A monthly survey of workers close to the man on the street shows that views on the current and future states of the economy are at their lowest since the survey was launched in January 2000, the Cabinet Office said Friday.
The index of current economic conditions, compiled with responses from so-called economy watchers, slid 3.4 points in July to 34.8, breaking the record low set the previous month and staying under the key level of 50 for the 12th consecutive month.
The index of economic conditions for the following few months dropped 5.1 points to 37.2, also breaking June’s record and staying below 50 for the 10th straight month.
A reading of 50 indicates that respondents — including taxi and truck drivers, and restaurant, hotel and shop workers — on average view the economy as unchanged. The survey was conducted on 1,500 workers late last month with 90.1 percent responding.
The level of respondents with the least favorable views of the economy also hit record highs. The percentage who said the economy had deteriorated reached 14.9 percent, while 11.7 percent said it will deteriorate.
The respondents, representing 11 regions nationwide, were asked to rate economic conditions on a five-point scale in comparison with three months earlier.
Those working at restaurants, convenience stores, small retailers in shopping districts and other small businesses showed notable declines in confidence in the economy, said Hidehiro Iwaki, director for regional economies and industries at the office.
In contrast, he said, department store employees in major cities are enjoying relatively firm sales due partly to the hot summer weather boosting sales of seasonal items.
A worker at a prepared-food shop in the Tokai region was quoted as replying that sales of summer gifts were sluggish, while a department store worker in the Kanto region, which includes Tokyo, said hot weather spurred clothing sales up to mid-July.
However, the outlook was dismal for most respondents, with one noting a turn for the worse in the previously buoyant information services market and another expressing uneasiness about a potential drop in autumn seasonal sales after the summer heat.
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