Japan’s job market remained tight in January, keeping pressure on companies to pledge solid wage increases in annual negotiations currently underway with labor unions.

The unemployment rate fell to 2.4% from a revised 2.5% a month earlier, the internal affairs ministry reported Friday, sliding to the lowest level since early 2020. The outcome was in line with economists’ consensus estimates.

Another report from the labor ministry showed the job-to-applicants ratio held steady at 1.27 in January, matching the median estimate by analysts.