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September jobless rate improves a bit to 4%

Kyodo

The unemployment rate fell a point to 4.0 percent in September, the government said Tuesday, indicating companies have become willing to hire more workers with the economy recuperating.

The number of people without work fell a seasonally adjusted 3.3 percent from August to 2.63 million, with those quitting jobs of their own volition decreasing 7.1 percent to 920,000, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said in a preliminary report.

By industry, the construction sector added 270,000 jobs month on month while agriculture and forestry added 230,000 and manufacturers cut 180,000, the ministry said.

Separate data released by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry showed that job availability was flat. The ratio of employment offers to seekers was unchanged from August at 95 positions available for every 100 job seekers.

The figures suggest that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policies of drastic monetary easing and massive public spending have bolstered the real economy, helping shore up the labor market, analysts said.

“In September, the number of employees rose while unemployment figures fell, signaling that the employment situation has continued to improve,” said Taro Saito, senior economist at NLI Research Institute in Tokyo.

In August, the unemployment rate rose for the first time in six months to 4.1 percent from 3.8 percent, but Saito said the deterioration was temporary, reflecting a rise in people seeking employment as the economy recovers.

An internal affairs ministry official said many people who started looking after the economy showed signs of picking up have found jobs recently.

Other data released by the internal affairs ministry suggested that shopping has been robust ahead of the planned consumption tax hike to 8 percent in April.

Average monthly household spending rose a price-adjusted 3.7 percent in September from a year earlier to ¥280,692, the ministry said.

The average monthly income of salaried households came to ¥431,931, up 0.9 percent in real terms, the internal affairs ministry said in a preliminary report.

Household spending figures are a key indicator of private consumption, which accounts for about 60 percent of Japan’s gross domestic product.