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Japan job availability drops to nearly 6-year low

Unemployment rate edges down to 2.8% despite losses in hospitality sector

TOKYO -- Japan's key gauge of job availability in June dropped to its worst showing in five years and eight months despite unemployment edging down, government data released on Friday shows, as restaurants and hotels struggled to stay in business amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The ratio of job openings to applicants, a key measure of how plentiful positions are in the labor market, stood at 1.11 in June, down from 1.2 the previous month, the labor ministry said.

The ratio means that 111 jobs are available for every 100 job seekers, and it marked the lowest reading since October 2014.

The ratio, an early indicator of the job market, stood at 1.61 for all of 2018, its highest plateau in nearly half a century.

Meanwhile, Japan's jobless rate stood at 2.8% in June, off from 2.9% in May, the Statistics Bureau said.

The collapse of inbound tourism and the meltdown in exports have crippled Japan's economy. Businesses responded by laying off temporary workers and furloughing others with financial support from government employment subsidies.

Restaurants and hotels have been especially hit hard as the new normal of working from home, dining at home and vacationing at home takes root.

The unemployment rate had been kept low in April and May despite the pandemic-triggered economic recession as laid-off workers stayed home rather than looking for new gigs.

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