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Japanese Factory Output Posts Record Drop in January

Japan says its industrial output plunged a record 10 percent in January, another sign the world's second-largest economy is facing its worst economic recession since the end of World War II.

January's bad numbers break the previous record of 9.8 percent set just the month before. Japan's export-driven economy is faltering due to plummeting demand around the world, especially in the United States, as the global recession deepens. Industrial production has dropped in nearly every area, including automobiles and electronics.

Data released earlier this week showed Japanese exports fell 46 percent in January.

In a separate report released Friday, nearly 158,000 "non-regular employees" are expected to lose their jobs between October 2008 and March 2009. Many of these employees are temporary workers in Japan's manufacturing sector.

The Japanese unemployment rate fell to 4.1 percent in January, compared to 4.3 percent in December. But economists attribute the decline to many laid-off workers who have stopped actively looking for a job.

The government also says domestic household spending dropped nearly six percent in January from a year earlier.