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Japan’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate increased 0.2 percentage point to 5.4 percent in May, with the rate for women hitting a record high 5.3 percent, the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications said Friday.

The overall jobless rate came close to the all-time high of 5.5 percent registered in December.

Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Chikara Sakaguchi told a news conference that he recognizes the nation’s employment situation “still remains severe.”

The unemployment rate for men rose 0.1 percentage point to 5.5 percent, and the rate for women represents a 0.4 point climb from the previous month, the ministry said in a preliminary report.

Large numbers of jobs were shed by the manufacturing, wholesale, retail and restaurant sector, a ministry official said. The wholesale, retail and restaurant sectors are major employers of women.

The number of employed workers in the manufacturing sector fell by 750,000, or 5.8 percent, for the 13th consecutive year-on-year drop. Those in the wholesale, retail and restaurant sector declined 390,000, or 2.6 percent, for the sixth straight month of fall.

The ministry said the number of unemployed in the reporting month rose by 270,000 from a year before to 3.75 million, for the 14th consecutive month of year-on-year increase.

Of the jobless, 1.01 million were the main breadwinners of households, another indication that the nation’s employment situation is deteriorating. The jobless number among major breadwinners — mostly men — has remained high, around 1 million, since November.

Meanwhile, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said in a separate report that the ratio of job offers to job seekers improved to a seasonally adjusted 0.53 in May, up from 0.52 in April, for the third consecutive month of improvement. The figure means there were 53 job offers for every 100 job seekers.

Job offers increased 1.2 percent from April, while job seekers rose 0.5 percent from the previous month, the ministry said. Compared with a year earlier, May job offers reached the same level for the first time after falling for nine months in a row.

By industry, job offers rose 6.3 percent in the service sector and 1.5 percent in the wholesale, retail and restaurant sector. They fell 11.5 percent in the construction sector, 7.2 percent in the manufacturing sector and 5 percent in the transportation and telecommunications sector.

The government declared that the economy had bottomed out in its monthly economic report in May and maintained the view in June.

Although the offer-to-seeker ratio continued improving, the climbing unemployment rate suggests that uncertainty still remains over the future of the economy.

Among other notable points in the public management ministry’s May employment data, the number of employed people fell by 1.17 million, or 1.8 percent, to 63.56 million, declining for the 14th straight month on a year-on-year basis. The fall is also the largest since 1.32 million people became unemployed in January 1954.

The number of regular employees with job contracts of one year or longer fell by 1.26 million, or 2.7 percent, from a year earlier. It was the 10th consecutive monthly fall. But temporary employees with less than one-year contracts rose by 290,000, or 5.3 percent.

The downtrend in regular employment and uptrend in temporary hiring continued, the ministry official said. Large firms with more than 500 employees continued slashing jobs in May, with the number of workers in that segment declining by 1.01 million, 7.8 percent, for the 13th straight month of fall.

Among workers who were looking for jobs in May, 1.13 million said they had left their jobs due to restructuring and other moves by employers.

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