Business sentiment among workers with jobs sensitive to economic trends topped the boom-or-bust line in October for the first time in nearly three years as the country gradually recovers from the initial economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, government data showed Tuesday.
The diffusion index of confidence among “economy watchers,” such as taxi drivers and restaurant staff, in their current conditions compared with three months ago rose 5.2 points from September to 54.5, the first reading over 50 since the 50.1 seen in January 2018, according to the Cabinet Office.
The survey showed that the economy is “steadily rebounding,” although difficulties remain due to the pandemic, the office said, upgrading its assessment for the second straight month.
Up for the sixth straight month, the latest figure was the highest since the 55.7 logged in January 2014, when a last-minute surge in demand was seen ahead of a hike in the consumption tax rate from 5 percent to 8 percent in April that year.
A reading above 50 indicates that more respondents reported improving conditions than worsening ones.
A government official said many respondents apparently felt the economic situation was at least better than three months before, when the country began to see a resurgence in new cases of the virus, but that conditions are “still tough.”
Japan had seen a resurgence of virus infections, with more than 1,500 daily new cases nationwide from late July to early August, but the pace slowed to below 1,000 per day in September and was almost unchanged in October.
The official also cited the role of the Go To campaigns, under which the government covers part of the costs for domestic travel and dining out to boost household spending and revive the tourism and other sectors hit by the pandemic.
A separate index, gauging business sentiment regarding the coming months, inched up 0.8 point to 49.1.
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