Japan’s jobless rate stays at 4.9% as payrolls climb, signaling recovery

March 2, 2011 - 0:0

Japan’s unemployment rate held steady while payrolls rose in January, adding to signs the nation’s recovery is gaining pace after a temporary slowdown.

The jobless rate remained unchanged from the previous month at 4.9 percent, the statistics bureau said o Tuesday in Tokyo. That figure matched the median estimate of 29 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.
Honda Motor Co. is among companies saying they will boost hiring as Japan’s export-driven recovery gains steam. Improving sentiment among consumers about their job prospects helped household confidence rebound from a 10-month low in January, when retail sales unexpectedly increased.
“The job market has been recovering on the whole, even if the improvements have been slow,” Hiroshi Miyazaki, chief economist at Shinkin Asset Management Co. in Tokyo, said before the report. “With corporate profits recovering, we should continue to see stable demand for labor.”
While the world’s third-largest economy contracted last quarter, gross domestic product will probably expand 1.47 percent in the year starting April, according to the average forecast of 43 economists in a survey by the government- affiliated Economic Planning Association released on Feb. 10.
Payrolls Increase The number of people with work increased by 170,000 in January from a month earlier while those outside the workforce decreased 0.4 percent, seasonally adjusted figures show.
A separate report on Tuesday showed that the job-to-applicant ratio rose, indicating that more jobs are becoming available. There were 61 positions for every 100 candidates in January, compared with a revised 58 positions in December, the Labor Ministry said.
Honda said last week it will hire 600 college and high school graduates in the year starting April 2012, an increase from the 588 the company’s planning to take on in fiscal year 2011. Japan’s third-largest automaker increased its profit forecast for the year ending this month by 6 percent in January, helped by rising U.S. auto sales and Asian motorcycle demand.
To contact the reporter on this story: Aki Ito in Tokyo at aito16@bloomberg.net