Japan's May jobless rate 2.6%; 1st rise in 4 months

Japan's unemployment rate rose to 2.6 percent in May from 2.5 percent in April, marking the first increase in four months, the internal affairs ministry said Friday, as people searched for new jobs amid the gradual economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The job availability ratio stood at 1.24, up 0.01 point from the previous month, showing an improvement for the fifth straight month, the labor ministry said separately. The ratio means there were 124 job openings for every 100 job seekers.
"Many people left jobs in search of better conditions amid easing coronavirus-related restrictions," an internal affairs ministry official told reporters.
By sector, accommodation and food services, as well as manufacturing, actively sought for new hiring, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
But Yuichi Kodama, chief economist at the Meiji Yasuda Research Institute, said, "The momentum for hiring has not led to appropriate wage increases yet," while food and resource prices have been driven higher by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The total number of people with jobs stood at 67.24 million, down 140,000 from April on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to data released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.
On an unadjusted basis, the number of people working in health care and welfare services stood at 9.45 million, up 5.1 percent from a year earlier, while employment in the information communications sector increased 8.8 percent to 2.72 million.
In contrast, employment in the wholesale and retail sectors stood at 10.18 million, down 3.7 percent from a year earlier, while the number of jobs in the food and accommodation service sectors stood at 3.68 million, down 0.8 percent.
The number of unemployed people totaled 1.80 million, up 40,000 from the previous month, according to the seasonally adjusted data.
Those who voluntarily left their jobs stood at 790,000, up 8.2 percent from the previous month, while the number of new job seekers remained flat from the previous month at 460,000.
Looking ahead, Kodama said he expects Japan's labor market will improve if the COVID-19 situation further calms down.

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