The labor ministry may subsidize construction companies as part of a program to create jobs for construction engineers forced out of work as banks strive to dispose of their bad loans, ministry officials said Tuesday.

The program calls on the government to pay a construction company about 200,000 yen for each architect or engineer it hires in construction management when the new employee had previously lost a job at another construction company, they said.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry plans to seek about 2 billion yen for the subsidies in budget requests for fiscal 2002, the officials said.

The program is designed to counter an expected increase in unemployment, especially in the construction, retail and wholesale industries, resulting from a government campaign to urge banks to clean up their bad loans under Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s reform agenda.

The program also calls for increasing the number of semipublic job-placement staff at an employment center under the ministry’s jurisdiction to about 400 from the current 240 in about five years.

The ministry also plans to allow unemployed people to receive some unemployment insurance benefits for up to six months, from the current three months, after the expiration of unemployment insurance if they receive job training, the officials said.

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