Japan's Jan jobless rate rises, job availability hits 21-month-high

People wearing protective face masks walk inside a building at a business district, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tokyo, Japan November 18, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s jobless rate rose to 2.8% and a gauge of job availability grew to a 21-month-high in January, government data showed on Friday.

The mixed data came as firms in the world’s third-largest economy conclude annual labour talks, while downside pressures from record coronavirus tolls and the Ukraine crisis overshadow the recovery outlook.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate compared with 2.7% in December, which was also the median forecast in a Reuters poll of economists.

The jobs-to-applicants ratio was 1.20 in January, labour ministry data showed, up 0.03 point from the previous month’s 1.17 and higher than a Reuters poll forecast of 1.16.

The reading was the highest since 1.31 marked in April 2020.

A health ministry official said the growth in job openings – led by manufacturing and face-to-face service sectors – outpaced that of job-seekers because more companies had submitted postings data before domestic COVID-19 infections skyrocketed later in the month.

“The impact of the Omicron variant (outbreak), both on job openings and seekers, will be reflected in February’s data,” the official said.

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