Japan’s unemployment rate eased in February to a seasonally adjusted 4.7 percent, down from a record-high 4.9 percent for the previous two months, the Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry said Friday.
The drop marks the first improvement in the jobless rate since August. A rate of 4.7 percent was last recorded in October.
The ratio of job offers to job seekers, however, deteriorated to a seasonally adjusted 0.64 in the reporting month from 0.65 in the previous month, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said in a separate report. The ratio, a measure of demand for labor, means that 64 jobs were being offered for every 100 people looking for work during the month.
Despite the moderate improvement in the jobless rate, a Labor Ministry official said, “The employment situation remains in a severe state, with the job offers-to-seekers ratio falling and the unemployment rate remaining at a high level.
“The government will immediately realize a package of measures to create jobs, which are included in the fiscal 2001 national budget,” he said.
In February, the unemployment rate was 4.8 percent for men, down 0.1 percentage point, and 4.5 percent for women, down 0.3 point, the Public Management Ministry said.
The number of people with jobs stood at 63.52 million in February, up 410,000 from a year earlier for the fifth straight month of increase.
While the number of male workers came to 37.61 million, down 50,000, the number of female workers increased 460,000 to 25.91 million.
The ministry said it is notable that the service industry, including software-related businesses, absorbed many female workers.
The number of unemployed declined for the first time in six months, falling 90,000 from a year earlier to 3.18 million. The number of men out of work fell by 110,000 to 1.93 million, while that of women climbed by 20,000 to 1.25 million.
The number of people who lost their jobs involuntarily in February marked a decline of 200,000 from a year before to 950,000, for the second consecutive month of decline, the ministry said.
The figure for people who quit their jobs slid 30,000 to 1.13 million for the eighth successive month of fall, it said.
For both sexes, the jobless rate was highest between the ages of 15 and 24, standing at 9.6 percent for men, down 0.9 point, and at 8.5 percent for women, up 0.4 point, it said.
The 15-24 age group includes those looking for work after graduating from school, and the ministry said it will keep a close watch on the employment situation in March and April, when students graduate and many workers face mandatory retirement.
The workforce by industrial sector included 13.04 million in the manufacturing sector, up 40,000 or 0.3 percent, the first upturn in 45 months, and 17.67 million in the service sector, up 1.02 million, some 6.1 percent, for the 12th straight month of increase.
However, the number of workers decreased in the construction sector by 230,000, or 3.6 percent, to 6.22 million, in transport and telecommunications by 130,000, some 3.1 percent, to 4.01 million, and in wholesaling, retailing and restaurants by 160,000, or 1.1 percent, to 14.54 million, it said.
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