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The jobless rate stood at 5.2 percent in April, unchanged from a month earlier, but the number of unemployed actually increased 270,000 to 3.75 million, according to preliminary figures released Friday by the Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry.

In addition, peripheral figures point to a worsening employment situation.

The number of bread-winners who lost their jobs increased by 120,000 to a record 1.08 million, and the number of people who were forced out of work due to job cuts and other management decisions came to a record 1.21 million.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for men rose 0.1 percentage point to 5.4 percent, and that for women fell 0.2 point to 4.9 percent, the ministry said.

“There were some signs that the employment situation was gradually improving,” labor minister Chikara Sakaguchi said. “But overall, it remains tough.”

The jobless rate had been on a gradual decline since hitting a record-high 5.5 percent in December.

By sector, the number of employed workers in the wholesale, retail and restaurant sector dipped 1.1 percent from a year earlier to 14.48 million.

The number of nonsalaried jobholders decreased by 940,000 to 63.33 million, marking the 13th consecutive monthly dip.

The number of salaried employees fell by 410,000 to 53.18 million, and the number of regular employees slipped 1.3 percent to 46.04 million, for the ninth straight monthly fall.

The number of temporary workers, meanwhile, climbed for the fourth consecutive month, jumping 5.8 percent to 5.68 million.

A ministry official said the spike in temporary workers is an indication that producers are increasingly resorting to short-term hiring as they rev up production.

In the January-March period, 48.1 percent of female company employees were temporary workers, up from 47.9 percent a year before.

The ministry also found that the percentage of people without jobs for at least a full year rose to 30.4 percent from 26.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the service industry’s ranks swelled 2 percent in April to 17.95 million, the 26th consecutive monthly rise.

The ratio of job offers to job seekers rose 0.01 point to a seasonally adjusted 0.52. That means 52 jobs were available for every 100 people seeking them, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said in a separate report.

Job offers increased 4.5 percent for the first upturn in 11 months, and the number of job seekers rose 1.8 percent for the first gain in three months.

The margin of year-on-year falls in new job offers shrank to 1.7 percent from 7.5 percent in March, maintaining its downtrend for the ninth straight month.

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