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Japan's jobless rate falls in April off record high
May 31, 2000
TOKYO, MAY 30 (AP) - The government announced Tuesday that Japan's unemployment rate improved slightly to 4.8 percent in April, moving off a record high.
The figure was also better than the 5.0 percent economists surveyed by Dow Jones and Nikkei News had forecast for the latest month. The unemployment rate had been at a record 4.9 percent in February and March.
The total number of jobless in Japan rose 40,000 from a year ago to 3.46 million in April, said the Management and Coordination Agency, which released the figures. Despite the rise, statistical adjustments resulted in a lower overall rate, said an agency official on condition of anonymity.
Though describing the unemployment situation as "still severe," the agency identified some positive signs.
April's data showed that the disparity between employment conditions for men and women had narrowed.
The jobless rate for men fell to 4.8 percent from 5.0 percent in March, while the number of men without work was at 2.06 million in April, unchanged from the same month last year. In March, the number of jobless men had risen by 140,000 from a year earlier.
The rate for women in April was flat at 4.6 percent, though the number of jobless rose by 30,000 to 1.39 million in April from a year ago, cutting deeply into March's fall of 50,000.
The number of involuntary jobless, people who were fired or whose companies went bankrupt, fell 10,000 to 1.14 million in April, the agency said.
This was offset, however, by a rise of 10,000 new graduates unable to find jobs to 240,000. The number of workers voluntarily quitting their jobs also increased by 80,000 to 1.16 million.
The number of temporary jobholders rose 250,000 or 5.2 percent to 5.07 million in April, continuing a monthly series of increases since September 1996, the agency said.
By industry, the number of jobholders in services increased by 350,000 or 2.1 percent to 17.30 million, reflecting the ongoing healthy employment trend in this sector, the agency said.
This rise, however, was offset by a decrease of 370,000 or 2.5 percent in the wholesale, retail and food sectors to 14.44 million.
In a separate survey, the Labor Ministry said the ratio of job offers to job seekers, an indicator of demand for labor, improved to 0.56 in April from 0.53 in March - meaning that there were 56 job offers for every 100 job seekers.
The new job offers ratio rose to 1.02 from 0.97, showing that there were 102 new jobs available for every 100 people seeking work. That marked the first time that the new job offers ratio has risen to the 100 level since February 1998.
The world's second-largest economy is struggling to emerge from its deepest slump in decades, forcing companies to trim payrolls and give up the custom of guaranteeing employees a job for life.