Business / Economy

October jobless rate stays flat at 4%


The unemployment rate in October was unchanged at 4.0 percent from the previous month, while job availability improved for the first time in two months with corporate profits picking up on the back of the economic recovery, government data showed Friday.

The number of unemployed people rose a seasonally adjusted 1.1 percent from September to 2.66 million, as those quitting jobs involuntarily increased 3.5 percent to 890,000, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said in a preliminary report.

But the number of people holding jobs gained 0.l percent to 63.27 million, preventing the jobless rate from worsening in October, a ministry official said.

Separate data showed that job availability improved for the first time in two months. The ratio of employment offers to seekers rose to 0.98 in October 0.95 from September, which means 98 positions were available for every 100 job seekers, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

By industry, the retail and wholesale sector cut 60,000 jobs month on month, while the agriculture and forestry industry axed 30,000. The lodging and food service industry added 110,000 jobs, the internal affairs ministry said.

The results suggest the labor market is improving with the economy on a recovery track backed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policies dubbed “Abenomics,” entailing aggressive monetary easing and large-scale public works projects, analysts said.

The unemployment rate is projected to decrease down the road despite growing concern over the economy taking a hit from the consumption tax rise next April.

“It appears that many companies don’t expect the tax hike to hurt the economy much,” said Taro Saito, senior economist at NLI Research Institute. “The employment situation is likely to improve ahead, even if the pace of the ongoing economic recovery temporarily slows.”

Labor minister Norihisa Tamura indicated at a news conference that the government will monitor whether a possible slowdown in the global economy, particularly in emerging nations, is likely to drag down the economy here and in turn its labor market.

“We will firmly implement necessary measures (to prop up the employment situation) under an economic stimulus package scheduled to be crafted early next month” aimed at mitigating the potential negative impact of the tax hike, Tamura said.

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