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Japan – Unemployment drops surprisingly

30 April 2013

Unemployment in Japan eased last month with government data on Tuesday showing a decline in joblessness while the availability of jobs also improved. The news points to a recovery in the economy.

According to the official figures, seasonally adjusted unemployment dropped to 4.1% in March from 4.3% in both February and January. A Dow Jones Newswires survey had forecast unemployment at 4.2%, while the Reuters poll had projected a higher rate of 4.3%

The number of unemployed in March totalled 2.8 million, a fall of 270,000 from the previous year. Employment levels also improved with the number of employed people rising by +0.5% year-on-year to 62.46 million.

Overall, the March figures showed a stronger than expected labour market. The jobs-to-applicants ratio was at 0.86. While the number of new job offers dropped by -1.6% in March from February, this figure was still up +3.6% from a year ago.

The Bank of Japan recently raised its forecast for economic growth this year, now estimating growth for the year from March of 2.9%, up from a previous 2.3%. Earlier this year the government announced plans to introduce a stimulus plan and boost job growth. Japan’s new government under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to defeat deflation and weak external demand which have dragged down the economy.

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