Japan's jobless rate improves amid women's market entry

30, Jul. 2019

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TOKYO, Kyodo - Japan's unemployment rate improved to 2.3 percent in June from 2.4 percent the previous month, helped by women's aggressive job market participation, government data showed Tuesday.

The number of people in work hit a record 67.47 million in the reporting month, with that of women topping 30 million for the first time since comparable data became available in 1953. The figures signaled the country continues to face a chronic labor shortage on the back of its rapidly aging population.

The male jobless rate increased 0.1 point from May to 2.6 percent, while that for women declined 0.2 point to 2.0 percent, the lowest level since February 1991, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

“The jobless rate has been firm and moving narrowly at that level,” a ministry official told reporters, adding the employment situation has been steadily improving.

The job availability ratio stood at 1.61, down from 1.62 in May, according to separate data released by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. The ratio means there were 161 openings for every 100 job seekers.

The percentage of the working-age population between 15 and 64 years old with jobs rose 1.0 point from a year earlier to 77.9 percent, the highest level since comparable data became available in 1968. The ratio for men in that age bracket was 84.4 percent, and for women 71.3 percent -- also the highest since 1968.

The seasonally adjusted number of unemployed was 1.61 million in June, down 10,000 from a month earlier.

Among them, 670,000 people voluntarily left their jobs in June, down 10,000 from the previous month. The number of new job-seekers grew 20,000 to 410,000, while 370,000 people were laid off, unchanged from a month earlier.

“This month's report is well-balanced as the number of people in work increased...the numbers of those who voluntarily left their jobs as well as new job-seekers were up,” said Koichi Fujishiro, senior economist at the Dai-ichi Life Research Institute.

He also said the positive results helped ease concerns that the slowdown in the global economy could affect Japan's employment situation. (Kyodo)