Jobless rate inches up to 4.3%

Kyodo

The unemployment rate rose to 4.3 percent in February from 4.2 percent the previous month, the government announced Friday, indicating some companies remain reluctant to hire while they await signs of economic recovery.

An official in the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, however, took an upbeat view of the job market.

More women are seeking employment amid growing hopes for economic recovery, pushing the jobless rate higher, but it will turn downward once companies start hiring more workers on the back of an expected economic recovery, according to the official.

The ranks of the unemployed fell by 120,000 to 2.77 million, the ministry said in a preliminary report, while the number of people with jobs increased by 160,000 to 62.42 million.

It was the first time in two months that the overall unemployment rate has deteriorated. The rate stayed at 4.6 percent for men but climbed to 3.9 percent for women from 3.8 percent in January.

Separate data showed that job availability was flat. The ratio of employment offers to job seekers remained unchanged at 0.85 in February from the previous month, meaning 85 positions were available for every 100 people hunting for work.