An estimated 840,000 new recruits nationwide began their first day of work Monday as fiscal 2013 began after a difficult job-hunting season hampered by the miserable economy.

As of Feb. 1, 81.7 percent of college students had found jobs before graduation, up for the second straight year, but the ratio was still lower than before the global financial crisis ushered in by Lehman Brothers' collapse in September 2008, the labor ministry said.

An estimated 77,000 college students had not found work as of Feb. 1 and many are believed to be jobless.