The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 4.1 percent in July from 4.2 percent in June, while the ratio of job offers to job seekers in July marked the highest level in 14 years, according to government data released Tuesday.
The jobless rate matched the average market projection of 4.1 percent, bolstering the view that the employment situation continues to improve on the back of a sustained economic recovery.
The ratio of job offers to seekers came to a seasonally adjusted 1.09 in July, up 0.01 point from the previous month and hitting its highest level since June 1992, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said.
The figure — which was also in line with market expectations — means there were 109 jobs available for every 100 people seeking work.
The number of job offers rose 1.2 percent in July from the previous month, while that of job seekers climbed 0.3 percent. The number of new job offers increased 4.5 percent from a year earlier.
In a separate report, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said the number of jobless people totaled 2.68 million in July, down 210,000 from a year earlier for the eighth straight month of decline.
The unemployment rate has hovered around 4.1 percent in recent months, rising to 4.2 percent in June after falling to 4.0 percent in May, the lowest level in eight years.
Economists project the jobless rate and the jobs-to-applicants ratio will improve in the coming months, given anticipated growth in the economy.
“We expect both indicators to stay on an improvement trend,” said Yasuo Goto, chief economist at Mitsubishi Research Institute. “The unemployment rate could fall to the 3 percent level in September or October.”
But Goto said he does not expect the indicators to post a sharp improvement because the so-called mismatch in employment remains persistent, referring to a gap between types of jobs that people want and the jobs actually available, and companies are still hesitant about expanding personnel and other fixed costs.
According to the report, the jobless rate for men was unchanged from June at 4.2 percent, while that for women fell 0.3 percentage point to 3.9 percent.
The number of jobholders rose 110,000 in July from a year earlier to 64.21 million for the 15th straight monthly increase.
The number of male jobholders grew 70,000 to 37.45 million and that of female workers increased 30,000 to 26.75 million.
The number of jobholders rose in the services, transport, and dining and hotel sectors, but fell in the retail, farm and construction sectors.
The number of people dismissed from their jobs fell by 120,000 to 590,000. The number of those who quit was down 90,000 to 1.03 million.
Jobless rates have been declining gradually in most age brackets but are still high in the younger groups.
The unemployment rate for males age 15 to 24 was 8.8 percent in July, down 0.5 point from a year earlier. The rate for females in that age bracket came to 6.7 percent, down 0.5 point.
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