• Kyodo

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The unemployment rate dropped to 4.3 percent in June from the previous month’s 4.4 percent, adding to signs of economic recovery after last year’s earthquake and tsunami, the government said Tuesday.

The improvement in the job market for the second straight month came against market forecasts that the rate would remain flat. The result could lead to brighter economic prospects, but at the same time there are still risks. Production growth is slowing down and exports remain subdued amid the gloomy global outlook.

Employment conditions have shown “development of improvement” as more people found jobs, an official from the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said. Some analysts, however, noted that new job offers rose only moderately.

Separate data showed that job availability improved for the 13th straight month. The ratio of employment offers to seekers rose to 0.82 last month from 0.81 in May, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said, which means 82 positions were available for every 100 job seekers.

The number of people employed grew 270,000, or 0.4 percent, to 62.72 million, according to data released by the internal affairs ministry, while the number of unemployed decreased 80,000, or 2.8 percent, to 2.81 million.

Of the jobless, 100,000 found work in June, pushing down the unemployment rate, while 30,000 quit their jobs.

The jobless rate for men stayed unchanged at 4.5 percent. The figure for women improved to 4.0 percent from 4.3 percent.

The medical and welfare industry continued to add to payrolls due apparently to growing demand for services as a result of the aging population. The construction sector also saw brisk growth amid accelerated work following the March 2011 disasters.

The wholesale and retail sector saw reduced employment, adding to fears that private consumption may begin falling. The transport and postal industries were also among the poor performers.

Some analysts noted a slower pace of growth in new job offers, warning it could be a sign of the dwindling pace of recovery from the disasters. The relevant ratio released by the labor ministry marked a fall to 1.32 from 1.35, the first deterioration in three months.

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