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The proportion of job-seeking university students in Japan graduating this month who had secured informal job offers as of Feb. 1 fell for the first time in 10 years, a government survey showed Friday.

The figure stood at 89.5%, down 2.8 percentage points from a year before, according to the joint survey by the labor and education ministries.

The fall came after airlines and other companies hit hard by the novel coronavirus crisis cut back on hiring.

The rate of year-on-year drop shrank from the previous survey taken in Dec. 1 last year.

“Companies are starting to make up for delays in hiring activities caused by the virus crisis,” a labor ministry official said.

But some of the companies have been impacted by the coronavirus state of emergency that was declared in January, and it is unclear whether the final job-securing rate will reach 95% as it has in recent years.

The rate for male students stood at 88.1%, while the figure for female students stood at 91.2%.

Of students with science majors, seen as advantageous in the labor market during economic downturns, 92.1% had secured job offers while the rate stood at 88.9% for those majoring in humanities and social sciences.

By location of universities, the job-securing rate fell in five of the six regions covered by the survey, while the Chugoku and Shikoku regions showed a slight improvement.

The virus crisis has caused great confusion for job-hunters as information sessions were canceled and interviews were conducted online, with firms forced to push back their hiring schedules.

Many companies in the airline and travel industries, struggling amid a dearth of customers as many people choose to stay home, decided to skip hiring new graduates altogether.

Meanwhile, the offer-securing rate for job-seekers graduating from high school this spring rose 1.4 points to 93.4% as of the end of January.

The number of graduating high school students who opted to join the labor market plunged 11.3%, apparently due to expectations that job-hunting would be difficult amid the coronavirus crisis.

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