Coronavirus panic has officially hit Japan and, as feared, we are already seeing an impact on the job market. Is this the beginning of the recession that many have been anticipating? Perhaps only hindsight will answer that question, however, it’s not looking good.
While there have ‘only’ been about 1,000 cases thus far in Japan, virus fear is already drastically slowing down or bringing to screeching halt aspects of the Japanese economy, including the hiring. Some early observations from our position:
(1) Most (if not all) employers have already stopped meeting candidates in-person and have shifted where possible to online/VC or telephone interviews;
(2) In the same vein, many companies/firms have directed their staff to stop all non-essential in-person meetings;
(3) An increasing number of people are now working at home to avoid working in close proximity to co-workers and crowded Tokyo public transport;
(4) A growing number of travel restrictions are already slowing down international business, including recruitment processes; and
(5) The virus is only just starting to take off in the US. It is scary to think about the effect on the global economy if/when it really explodes.
On a positive note, we’re not (yet) seeing the situation that we saw in late 2008/early 2009 when employers stopped almost all recruitment processes and the bottom fell out of the economy. Who knows in what direction this virus will head, but if the number of cases continues to grow then the prospects of a global recession are very likely…
Then again, maybe cooler heads will prevail. After all, the common flu will infect over 5 million people worldwide and take over 650,000 lives in 2020. Maybe COVID-19 is just a new thing we have to learn to live with?