SENDAI (Kyodo) — The number of people applying for extra jobless benefits as of September increased fourfold from a year earlier in three prefectures hit hard by the March earthquake and tsunami, demonstrating the severe employment situation there, government data showed Monday.
A total of 12,705 people in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, up from 3,213 the previous year, received the allowances at the end of September beyond the standard payout period ranging from 90 to 330 days, according to the survey by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.
The government introduced in March 2009 a system that allows those who cannot land a job during the designated payout period to conditionally extend the provision of unemployment allowances for 30 or 60 days.
By prefecture, 5,890 people between jobs in Miyagi received such benefits after extending their qualification period, up 3.85 times on a yearly basis, followed by Fukushima with 4,875, up 4.46 times, and Iwate with 1,940, up 3.26 times.
The number of job seekers receiving such benefits for an extended period reached 4,575 in July in the three prefectures, more than three times the previous year’s figure, and climbed to 5,361 in August, over four times the year-earlier level, before dropping to 3,431 in September, still more than triple last year’s number.
As a special measure to support those affected by the quake, tsunami and the ongoing nuclear crisis in Fukushima Prefecture, the government earlier granted a 120-day extension of unemployment allowance payments to job seekers in the Tohoku area and extended it again for 90 more days in September.