31 Mar 2009

Japan's jobless rate hits three-year high

10:22 pm on 31 March 2009

Japan's unemployment rate has risen to a three-year high as companies continue to slash jobs.

The jobless rate rose to 4.4% in February, from 4.1% in the previous month, the government said.

Separate data showed that consumer spending last month fell by 3.5% from a year earlier.

Prime Minister Taro Aso is planning to announce a new package of stimulus spending to try to revive the world's second-biggest economy.

The package, the fourth since last year, may be worth up to 20 trillion yen ($US200 billion)and include temporarily lowering or scrapping inheritance tax to encourage elderly people to pass on their savings to the young.

The government hopes to spur the creation of two million jobs.

The number of unemployed people in Japan in February stood at 2.99 million, up by 330,000 from a year ago, the government said.