• Kyodo

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Japan’s job availability fell to its lowest level in almost seven years in September, with many returning to the labor market following a gradual resumption of economic activity that had been slowed by the coronavirus pandemic, government data showed Friday.

The job-to-applicant ratio worsened to 1.03 from 1.04 in August, falling for the ninth month in a row to its lowest level since December 2013, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry. The ratio means there were 103 job openings for every 100 job seekers.

But the level of deterioration was less severe than a 0.04 point fall in August and a 0.12 point plunge in May, the sharpest monthly drop in over 46 years, logged in the wake of the government’s state of emergency declaration over the virus in early April.

Separate data from the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry showed the jobless rate in September stood at 3.0%, unchanged from August, when it increased for the second consecutive month.

The results showed the initial heavy blow by the pandemic to the country’s labor market has been gradually easing, although it remained in a severe condition even after the complete lifting of the emergency declaration in late May.

“We can presume that most people who lost their job following the state of emergency were able to return to the labor market, instead of remaining jobless,” a government official said, briefing reporters.

The number of jobless people, before seasonal adjustment, increased 420,000 from a year earlier to 2.10 million, up for the eighth straight month.

That of people in work fell 790,000 to 66.89 million, down for the sixth consecutive month.

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