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Jobless rate edges down to 3.6% but offers sag

JIJI

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in February fell 0.1 point from the previous month to 3.6 percent, the lowest since July 2007, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said Friday.

It was the first improvement in two months, but the number of new job offers nationwide, a leading indicator of employment, sagged 2.9 percent to 840,000.

Separately, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said the ratio of job openings to job-seekers in February edged up 0.01 point at 1.05 after seasonal adjustment, rising for the 15th consecutive month and marking its highest level in 6½ years.

Reflecting the economic rebound and last-minute demand before the first stage of the consumption tax hike in April, “the balance of supply and demand has considerably tightened” in the labor market, an internal affairs ministry official said.

In February, both people looking for jobs and job openings declined. A labor ministry official said the falls were apparently caused by the heavy snowy weather that month.

The internal affairs ministry said the number of people at work rose 130,000 from the previous month to 63.32 million, while the ranks of the jobless fell 90,000 to 2.33 million.

The jobless rate for people aged 15 to 24 meanwhile fell 0.7 point to 5.8 percent.

The jobs-to-seekers ratio represents the number of effective job offers per person seeking jobs. New job offers rose from the manufacturing and service industries, including temporary staffing agencies, but fell among education service providers.

The ratio was highest at 1.53 in Aichi Prefecture and lowest in Okinawa at 0.62.