Japan’s labor market showed further signs of tightness in December, driven by a manpower shortage across a swath of sectors in a closely watched development as companies engage in annual wage negotiations with unions.

The unemployment rate fell to 2.4% in December from 2.5% in the previous month, the internal affairs ministry reported Tuesday. The number of people with jobs rose by 380,000 from a year earlier, a 17th consecutive increase. Industries that led the increase in employment included manufacturing, lodging and food services.

While a separate measure showed a slight weakening of labor demand, the labor market remains at its tightest levels in years. The job-to-applicants ratio edged lower to 1.27 from 1.28, missing economists’ expectations for the gauge to be unchanged, the labor ministry reported.