Japan’s industrial production and household spending slipped in May and the unemployment rate unexpectedly increased, in signs that the recovery of the world’s second-largest economy may slow.The chart of unemployment by age group also shows the structural issue facing Japan as a slowing economy and aging population makes it more difficult for younger workers to break into the workforce.
The figures underscore Japan’s reliance on exports to propel its rebound, and follow calls by the U.S. for Japanese policy makers to stimulate domestic demand. For Prime Minister Naoto Kan, facing a mid-term election in less than two weeks, the figures may pose a warning that it’s too soon to tighten fiscal policy to shrink the nation’s debt.
The jobless rate reached 5.2 percent in May, the third straight monthly increase and the highest level since December, the statistics bureau said in Tokyo. Household spending retreated 0.7 percent from May 2009, the office also said, a day after another report showed retail sales slowed last month.