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A Japanese labor ministry survey showed Friday that 31.2% of people who started to work in Japan just after graduating from university in spring 2018 quit their jobs within three years.

The turnover rate fell 1.6 percentage points from the the year before, marking the first drop in three years and hitting the lowest level in eight years.

The rate stood at 31% in the survey taken eight years before, which covered new graduates who began to work in the spring of 2010. At that time, the economy was still recovering from a downturn triggered by the 2008 collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers.

The latest result indicates that many new graduates chose not to change jobs amid mounting uncertainty due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Also, the government’s employment adjustment subsidy program for companies that put workers on paid leave instead of discharging them helped protect jobs amid the epidemic.

By industry, the hotel and restaurant sector saw the highest rate of turnover at 51.5 %, down 1.1 percentage points, followed by the entertainment service sector and the education and learning support sector.

At companies with 1,000 or more employees, 24.7 % of new graduates quit within three years, far lower than 49.4 % at businesses with five to 29 employees and 56.3 % at those with fewer than five employees.

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