Large companies are cautious about hiring new graduates in the 2021 business year because the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the global economy remains unclear, a survey showed Saturday.

According to the Kyodo News survey of 111 companies, including Toyota Motor Corp. and Sony Corp., 29 firms, or 26 percent, said they are expected to cut back on hiring fresh graduates starting from April 2021, up from 16 percent in last year’s hiring survey.

Only 10 firms, or 9 percent, said they are planning to increase hiring, down from 21 percent in the previous survey.

About 36 percent said there will be no change in their employment policy for new graduates and 25 percent said they are undecided.

Among sectors with plans to reduce hiring are materials and electronics makers, transport companies and retailers. Those companies as well as those that are undecided said the impact on earnings from the virus is uncertain and they need more time to see how the pandemic will affect the economy.

For graduating students, job conditions have been favorable in recent years because of a labor shortage caused by the nation’s rapidly graying society.

But the survey, conducted from early April to early May, indicates the job market could take a turn for the worse, given that nonessential businesses were pressured to close and people were asked to stay home by the central and prefectural governments.

The combined net profit of companies listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange sank 66.8 percent on year in the quarter ended in March, according to SMBC Nikko Securities Inc.

The survey also found 83 percent plan to interview job seekers online because some stay-at-home requests are still in effect to stem the spread of the pneumonia-causing virus.

Many companies said they are willing to continue online interviews even after the pandemic subsides as they can reduce the burden on students in remote locations, and 79 percent said they had introduced or expanded telecommuting.

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