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Economy

Japan's March jobless rate rises to 2.5%

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's unemployment rate rose to 2.5 percent in March due to an increase in men quitting their jobs to seek better positions in the tightest labor market in decades, government data showed Friday.

The jobless rate edged up 0.2 percentage point from February, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. The unemployment level among men was up 0.3 point from the previous month to 2.8 percent, while that for women was unchanged at 2.2 percent.

Job availability stood at 1.63, the same as February, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said. The ratio means there were 163 openings for every 100 job seekers.

The figures show Japan continuing to suffer a labor shortage due to its graying population.

"Amid a high job availability rate, the number of people who seek better job conditions has increased, and such a trend is continuing," an internal affairs ministry official told reporters.

"The labor environment has been steadily improving," the official also said.

The seasonally-adjusted number of unemployed stood at 1.74 million in the reporting month, up 140,000 from the previous month.

Among them, 830,000 people voluntarily left jobs in March, up 160,000 from February. The number of those who newly started to seek jobs fell 10,000 to 370,000, while 360,000 people were laid off, down 10,000.

The percentage of the working-age population between 15 and 64 years old with jobs was 77.2 percent, up 1.0 point from the previous year. For men in that age range it was 83.8 percent, and for women 70.5 percent.

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