The nation’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate remained unchanged in July from the previous month at 5.3 percent as the severe unemployment situation continued, the government said Friday.
The number of unemployed totaled 3.42 million, down 100,000 from a year earlier for the second straight monthly decline, the Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry said in a preliminary report.
The number of employed rose by 70,000 to 63.81 million, up for the third consecutive month, with employment in the service, transport, drug and welfare sectors growing.
Despite some upbeat data, the jobless rate has continued to hover near the postwar record high of 5.5 percent, moving between 5.2 percent and 5.5 percent for 23 months.
“The unemployment situation remains severe in Japan,” said Michio Matsumura, head of the ministry’s Labor Force Statistics Office. “We see some positive signs in the labor market, but they don’t appear to be creating strong momentum.”
Matsumura cited downbeat factors such as the still-high number of men, especially heads of households, laid off in corporate restructuring, and high unemployment among young people.
Private-sector economists said unemployment is expected to remain high as companies continue to eliminate jobs and shed excess capacity to improve their profitability.
“I don’t expect a dramatic improvement in the job market in the near future because Japanese firms are still in the process of restructuring to boost competitiveness,” said Tom Kirchmaier, of the London School of Economics and Political Science.