The unemployment rate fell to 4.2 percent in January from a revised 4.3 percent in December for the first improvement in three months as more women found jobs, government data showed Friday.
But an official in the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said the jobless rate has been at the same level since around last autumn and employment conditions remain tough, noting that the number of unemployed people did not decrease in January.
“The job climate hereafter will hinge on whether the overseas situation and (Japan’s) economic policies will lead to growth in the country’s economy,” the official said.
The number of unemployed people grew by 10,000, or 0.4 percent, to 2.79 million, the ministry said in a preliminary report. The number of people with jobs, meanwhile, increased by 340,000, or 0.5 percent, to 62.89 million.
The situation between men and women appeared to show differences, with the unemployment rate for men deteriorating to 4.6 percent from 4.5 percent while that for women improved to 3.8 percent from 4.0 percent.
Payrolls increased in industries with traditionally strong female representation, such as accommodations and food services, as well as education, while those in the manufacturing sector, where more men tend to be hired, declined.
Of the unemployed, people who quit jobs voluntarily increased by 70,000, or 7.7 percent, to 980,000.
Year on year, meanwhile, the number of unemployed people in January decreased by 180,000 to 2.73 million.
Separate data showed the nation’s job availability improved for the third consecutive month. The ratio of employment offers to seekers climbed to 0.85 in January from 0.83 in December, which means 85 positions were available for every 100 job seekers, according to the labor ministry.