• Kyodo

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The unemployment rate held steady at 4.3 percent in July after climbing last month, hinting at a pause in the seasonally adjusted figure’s uptrend, a preliminary report by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said Friday.

With the decelerating global economy weighing on Japanese exports and industrial production, a ministry official said he is concerned about how the job environment might be affected. The government downgraded its assessment of the economy in its August report.

While job availability continues to improve, new job seekers, mainly women, entered the market and appear to have boosted the number of jobless, he said.

The number of people employed sank 30,000 to 62.69 million, flat from June in percentage terms, while the number of unemployed rose by 10,000, or 0.4 percent, to 2.82 million. Of the unemployed, those who started looking for jobs out of necessity stood at 650,000, up 120,000.

The medical and welfare industry continued to increase its payrolls, apparently because of growing demand for services driven by the rapidly aging population. The wholesale and retail sector was among the poorest performers.

Haruka Kazama, an economist at Mizuho Research Institute, blamed the sluggish improvement in the jobless rate to the oft-cited problem of job-worker mismatches.

The jobless rate for men was unchanged at 4.5 percent, while that for women edged down to 4.1 percent from 4.0 percent.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry released data the same day showing that job availability improved for the 14th consecutive month. The ratio of job offers to job seekers rose to 0.83 last month from 0.82 in June, meaning 83 positions were available for every 100 job seekers.

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