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The average jobless rate in fiscal 2000 remained unchanged from the previous year at 4.7 percent, the highest since comparable data on an annual basis became available in 1953, the government said Friday.

The unemployment rate for men was 4.9 percent while the rate for women stood at 4.5 percent, both unchanged from fiscal 1999 and the highest since 1953, the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications said.

In March, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate held steady at 4.7 percent for the second consecutive month after remaining at 4.9 percent, a record high on a monthly basis, in January and December.

The average ratio of job offers to job seekers in fiscal 2000 stood at 0.62, up from 0.49 in fiscal 1999, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said in a separate report.

The figures, which are a gauge of demand for labor, mean that 62 jobs were offered for every 100 job seekers per month on an average basis.

The ratio for March, however, worsened to a seasonally adjusted 0.61 from 0.64 in the preceding month, the labor ministry said.

“The unemployment rate is still high. The labor situation remains severe and unpredictable,” a labor ministry official said. “The government will steadily implement the job-creating measures included in the emergency economic package.”

The government is likely to face increased pressure for labor measures in the face of the drastic economic reforms pledged by new Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, which may bring about more bankruptcies and unemployment.

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