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Japan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 4.2 percent in June, marking a 0.2 percentage point contraction from May and the lowest figure in nearly seven years, the government said Friday.

The government said the figures underscore an improvement in the labor market spurred by a sustained economic recovery.

Meanwhile, separate government data show that the ratio of job offers to job-seekers in June improved to the highest level in nearly 13 years, another indication of a steady recovery in employment conditions.

The number of jobless people totaled 2.80 million in the reporting month, marking a decrease of 290,000 from a year earlier and a 25th straight month of decline, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said in a preliminary report.

The jobless rate for June, the lowest since July 1998, when the rate stood at 4.1 percent, was well below the average projection of 4.4 percent issued by private-sector economists polled by Kyodo News.

“The 0.2-percentage-point decline seems a great improvement in employment conditions, but the recovery trend is rather moderate from a long-term perspective,” a ministry official said.

Private-sector economists generally share the government’s view, saying the employment situation is likely to keep enjoying a mild recovery, reflecting moderate economic growth. “The figure shows companies’ positive attitudes toward hiring people,” said Mamoru Yamazaki, senior economist at HSBC Securities (Japan) Ltd., citing upbeat corporate earnings.

Yamazaki said growing labor demand partly stems from companies’ concerns about the so-called 2007 crisis, when a large number of baby boomers will reach the retirement age of 60, causing a huge drop in the labor force.

In a separate report, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said the ratio of job offers to job-seekers came to a seasonally adjusted 0.96 in June, up from 0.94 in May and the highest reading since November 1992, when the ratio also stood at 0.96.

The figure means there were 96 jobs available for every 100 job-seekers.

The number of job offers rose 1.9 percent from May, while that of job-seekers fell 0.5 percent, the report says.

The number of new job offers grew 11.1 percent from a year earlier.

According to the internal affairs ministry, the jobless rate for men fell 0.2 percentage point from May to 4.4 percent. The unemployment rate for women meanwhile dropped 0.3 point to 3.9 percent, falling below the 4 percent line for the first time since May 1998, when the rate also stood at 3.9 percent.

The number of people made redundant involuntarily totaled 700,000, down 200,000 from a year earlier. By contrast, the number who quit of their own accord rose 30,000 to 1.04 million.

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