Business / Economy

Japan's unemployment rate flat in May at 2.4% amid tight labor market

Kyodo

Japan’s unemployment rate stood at 2.4 percent in May, unchanged from the previous month, as the labor market remained at its tightest in decades, government data showed Friday.

The jobless rate for men was unchanged from April at 2.5 percent, while that for women decreased 0.1 point to 2.2 percent, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

The job availability ratio stood at 1.62, slightly down from 1.63 in April, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said. The ratio means there were 162 openings for every 100 job-seekers.

The figures show the country is continuing to face a labor shortage amid a rapidly graying population.

The number of people in work stood at 67.32 million in the reporting month, the highest figure seen since comparable data became available in 1953.

“While the employment situation is steadily improving and the jobless rate remains at its lowest level in 26 years, there wasn’t a major development” in the reporting month, an internal affairs ministry official told reporters.

The percentage of the working-age population between 15 and 64 years old with jobs came to 77.6 percent, up 0.6 point from a year ago. For men in that age range it was 84.2 percent, and for women 70.8 percent — the highest since 1968.

The seasonally adjusted number of unemployed was 1.62 million in May, down 60,000 from a month earlier.

Among them, 680,000 people voluntarily left their jobs in the reporting month, down 70,000 from the previous month. The number of new job-seekers expanded 30,000 to 390,000, while 370,000 people were laid off, down 10,000.

Munehisa Tamura, researcher at the Daiwa Institute of Research, said the survey did not show any impact of the escalated trade tensions between the United States and China.

“The unemployment rate and job availability ratio are likely to remain flat (for the time being) due partly to the labor crunch,” Tamura said.