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Japan's job availability in May falls amid inflationary pressures

Japan's job availability ratio for May fell 0.01 point from the previous month to 1.31, the first drop in two months, as ongoing high material prices and utility bills weighed on recruitment activities in some sectors, government data showed Friday.

The country's unemployment rate, meanwhile, remained unchanged at 2.6 percent in May.

The latest job-to-applicant ratio means there were 131 job openings for every 100 job seekers. Employment offers fell in the manufacturing and construction sectors from a year earlier, down 5.4 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.

"Although companies are facing a manpower shortage, soaring material prices and labor costs have pressured their earnings, prompting them to hold off hiring," a Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare official said.

Among sectors that increased job offers, accommodation and food saw the sharpest rise of 13.5 percent due to a recovery in demand for eating out and travel on the back of receding concern about the coronavirus and an increase in visitors to Japan.

Last month, the Japanese government downgraded COVID-19 to the same category as seasonal flu and significantly relaxed medical countermeasures, marking a major shift in its approach after three years of dealing with the disease.

The number of job openings decreased 0.7 percent in May from the previous month, while that of job seekers grew 0.1 percent, the labor ministry said.

The jobless data released the same day by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications showed the unemployment rates stood at 2.7 percent and 2.4 percent for men and women, respectively, unchanged from a month before.

"Employment in the accommodation and eatery sectors among both men and women is recovering to pre-pandemic levels amid a return to economic normalcy after the government downgraded COVID-19," an internal affairs ministry official said.

The number of unemployed people in May decreased 1.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted 1.77 million people.

Among them, 710,000 people voluntarily left their jobs, down 2.7 percent, while 440,000 people were dismissed, unchanged from the previous month.