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Oct. 'economy watchers' survey shows dim outlook.

TOKYO, Nov. 17 Kyodo

An increasing number of Japanese workers with jobs sensitive to the economic cycle are becoming pessimistic about the future, following the recent bankruptcies of life insurers, according to a government survey released Friday.

The Economic Planning Agency (EPA) said its October ''economy watchers'' survey showed the index, measuring workers' opinions on the economy two to three months ahead, was 48.9, down 3.7 points from

September, slipping below the boom-or-bust line of 50 for the first time since January, when the survey started.

The survey covers people whose jobs tend to make them sensitive to the ups and downs of the economy, such as department store sales clerks, taxi drivers, and employees of temporary staff agencies.

In the survey, the respondents indicate, on a 5-point scale, if they think the economy is improving or worsening.

Many pollees said consumers were adversely affected by the bankruptcies of Chiyoda Mutual Life Insurance Co. and Kyoei Life Insurance Co., as well as the closure of stores by Sogo Co., a department store operator now under court-led rehabilitation, and the sluggish stock market, an EPA official said.

The index gauging workers' views on the current status of the economy came to 46.5, staying below 50 for the third consecutive month. Pollees were negative on household spending.

Starting with the October survey, the EPA expanded the number of people surveyed to 1,500 from 600 by increasing the number of survey areas to 11 from seven.

The regions of Hokuriku, Chugoku, Shikoku and Okinawa were newly added to Hokkaido, Tohoku, north Kanto, south Kanto, Tokai, Kinki and Kyushu.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Nov 20, 2000
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