Japan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 4.8 percent in April, down 0.1 percentage point from the postwar record high of 4.9 percent registered in February and March, the Management and Coordination Agency said Tuesday.

The first improvement in the jobless rate in seven months was due partly to the decline in the number of university graduates failing to find jobs.

The number of university graduates unable to find work fell from 320,000 in March to 240,000 in April.

A separate report released Tuesday by the Labor Ministry showed that the ratio of job offers to job-seekers improved in April, standing at a seasonally adjusted 0.56, up 0.03 point from March.

The figure shows there were 56 jobs offered for every 100 people looking for work.

New offers grew 5.5 percent from the year before, rising a notable 17.5 percent in the services industry.

The Management and Coordination Agency said the monthly jobless rate for men stood at 5 percent, down 0.2 percentage point from March, while the rate for women was unchanged at 4.6 percent.

The jobless rate for men aged 15 to 24 fell 0.9 percentage point from April last year to 9.9 percent, down by 50,000 people, while that for women in the same age bracket slipped 0.3 percentage point to 9.1 percent, down by 30,000.

The jobless rate for men aged 55 to 66 rose 0.5 percentage point to 7.7 percent, up by 30,000 from the year before, while that for women in the same age bracket rose 1.2 percentage points to 4.3 percent, up by 50,000.

In line with the rising unemployment rate among older people, the jobless rate for household heads came to a record-high 3.6 percent, or a record 980,000 people.

The unemployment rate among spouses of household heads also hit a record high, 3.5 percent, or a record 500,000 people.

The agency said the number of employed people totaled 64.4 million in April, down 290,000 from a year earlier.

The number of full-time workers fell from the year before for the 28th consecutive month, down 440,000 to 46.31 million, while the number of part-time workers grew for the 44th straight month, up by 250,000 to 5.07 million.

An agency official said it was good that the overall jobless rate had come down 0.1 percentage point, but that the

increase in the number of older jobless people and fall in the number of full-time workers are worrying.

“We are seeing both good and bad signs, but the overall trend remains severe and needs close monitoring,” the official said.

Spending up 3.6%

Households of salaried workers spent more in April than they did a year earlier, the Management and Coordination Agency said in a preliminary report released Tuesday.

Wage-earning households spent an average 366,300 yen per month, up an inflation-adjusted 3.6 percent from a year earlier and a seasonally adjusted 6.7 percent from March, the agency said.

In March, overall spending declined 1.3 percent over the year before.

The spending increase was primarily attributed to brisk purchases of cars, notably those with engine sizes of more than 2,000cc.

Average spending in the transport and telecommunications category increased a real 39 percent from a year earlier.

Spending on cars pushed up overall spending by 3 percentage points, the official said.

Average spending also increased for such goods and services as telecommunications charges, education fees, health and welfare services, and utility charges.

Of the 10 spending categories, housing fell 11.1 percent, furniture and household items 22 percent, and clothing and shoes 10.9 percent

Nonconsumption expenses such as taxes and social security costs fell 15.1 percent to 80,101 yen, largely because this year’s deadline for paying property tax is May 31, not the regular deadline of April 30.

Wage-earning households account for roughly 60 percent of Japan’s total household spending.

Average income of the 4,672 families surveyed was unchanged from a year earlier, at 504,287 yen, with the regular income earned by the lead breadwinner rising a real 2.5 percent to 383,048 yen for the third consecutive month of increase.

Disposable income rose 3.2 percent for the first time in 10 months to 424,185 yen.

The propensity to consume, or the ratio of household spending to disposable income, came to an index reading of 71.9 in April against the 1995 base of 100, up from 70.8 in March.