Japan's workers assess economy less favorably after Jan. 1 quake

A government survey has found that business sentiment among workers was down in January for the first time in four months. The fall comes in the wake of the powerful earthquake that hit central Japan on New Year's Day.

The Cabinet Office's Economy Watchers Survey shows that sentiment in January stood at 50.2, down 1.6 points from December.

It asked 2,000 working people how they feel about current economic conditions compared to three months before.

The Hokuriku region, which was severely affected by the quake, marked the sharpest decline among Japan's 12 regions, falling 9.1 points to 41.3.

One department store employee who was surveyed said consumer sentiment has weakened substantially since the quake.

Meanwhile, a hotel worker pointed out that the disaster has severely dented the number of bookings, with most people canceling and no new reservations coming in.