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Economy

Japan's July jobless rate hits 26-year low amid labor shortage

Job openings abound as population rapidly ages

Government data shows that there were 159 openings for every 100 job seekers.   © Reuters

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's unemployment rate hit a 26-year low in July amid improving employment conditions on the back of a serious labor shortage due to the country's rapidly aging population, government data showed Friday.

The jobless rate was down 0.1 percentage point from June to 2.2 percent, the lowest since October 1992, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

The male jobless rate decreased 0.2 point from June to 2.4 percent, while that for women climbed 0.1 point to 2.1 percent, the ministry said.

A ministry official who briefed reporters said, "The very low unemployment rate showed the employment situation has been improving."

Separate data from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare showed the job availability ratio stood at 1.59, down from 1.61 in June. The ratio means there were 159 openings for every 100 job seekers.

The percentage of the working-age population between 15 and 64 years old with jobs gained 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 group was 84.4 percent, rising 0.7 point from a year earlier, while that for women was up 1.3 points to 71.2 percent.

The seasonally adjusted number of unemployed was 1.54 million in the reporting month, down 70,000, or 4.3 percent, from a month earlier.

Among them, 680,000 people voluntarily left their jobs in July, up 10,000 from the previous month. The number of new job-seekers fell 60,000 to 350,000, while 360,000 people were laid off, down 10,000 from a month earlier.

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