• Kyodo

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Job availability across the country improved to its highest level in over 23 years and the unemployment rate fell to 3.3 percent in July, the government said Friday, signaling that companies are willing to hire more workers.

The ratio of job offers to seekers rose to 1.21 from 1.19 in June, the highest level since February 1992, labor ministry data showed. That means 121 positions were available for every 100 job seekers.

The unemployment rate marked the first improvement in three months, as it fell from 3.4 percent in June, the internal affairs ministry said separately in a preliminary report.

“The employment situation is on a recovery trend,” a government official said following the release of the data.

The number of unemployed people fell a seasonally adjusted 0.9 percent to 2.2 million, while that of those holding jobs dipped 0.2 percent from to 63.78 million.

The data showed the number of those leaving jobs “involuntarily” for reasons such as mandatory retirement dropped 4.7 percent to 610,000, the lowest level since 2002.

The unemployment rate for men dropped 0.1 percentage point to 3.5 percent, while that for women rose 0.1 point to 3.2 percent.

By industry, the health care and welfare sectors continued to attract more workers, with 290,000 jobs added in July, up 3.9 percent, on a year-on-year basis.

As major domestic companies, particularly exporters, have reaped profits thanks to a weaker yen in recent months, they appear willing to hire more people.

But some analysts said that economic uncertainties remain after wild swings in Chinese and other global stock markets.

The number of workers in the manufacturing and the wholesale and retail sectors fell by 200,000, or 1.9 percent, and 80,000, or 0.8 percent, respectively.

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