Japan’s Dec jobless rate falls as monthly employment gain hits near 36-year high

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Office workers are reflected in a glass railing as they cross street during lunch hour in Tokyo

TOKYO – Japan’s jobless rate fell to 2.7% in December as employment posted the biggest monthly gain in nearly 36 years, government data showed on Tuesday.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in December was lower than the 2.8% in the previous month, which was also the median forecast in a Reuters poll of economists.

The seasonally adjusted number of employed people grew by 490,000, the biggest gain since January 1986, to 66.7 million in December.

“Employment figures were growing in sectors such as hotel and restaurant services, reflecting low COVID-19 cases in December,” a government official said.

“However, we need to pay close attention to the outlook (for employment) as coronavirus infections are rising because of the Omicron variant.”

A gauge of job availability also rose. The jobs-to-applicants ratio was 1.16 in December, labour ministry data showed, up 0.01 point from the previous month’s reading and matching a Reuters poll forecast of 1.16.

(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko and Kantaro Komiya; Writing by Daniel Leussink; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Lincoln Feast)

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