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Japan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 4.6 percent in September, down 0.2 percentage point from August, the government said Friday.

The number of jobless people totaled 3.09 million in the reporting month, down 370,000 from a year earlier for the 16th straight monthly decrease, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said in a preliminary report.

The unemployment rate, the lowest since June, undercut the average private-sector projection of 4.8 percent, underlining an improvement in the labor market spurred by the nation’s sustained economic recovery.

The jobless rate for men was 4.8 percent, down 0.1 point from the previous month, while that for women fell 0.4 point to 4.2 percent, the report says.

The number of jobholders increased 230,000 from a year before to 63.69 million, up for the second straight month. The number of jobholders rose in the services, medical and welfare sectors, but fell in manufacturing and retail industries.

The number of people forced out of work due to reasons such as corporate restructuring or bankruptcy fell 270,000 from a year earlier to 830,000, indicating that corporate confidence is picking up in line with the current economic uptrend.

“After the jobless rate hit the bottom in the spring, we are seeing the arrival of an era of re-employment,” said Yukari Sato, chief economist at Credit Suisse First Boston Securities (Japan) Ltd.

“Companies plan to increase employment of new graduates next spring, while shifting a greater number of jobs to part-time staff from regular employees, creating more jobs. The positive employment outlook would lead to an increase in personal spending.”

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