Japan's unemployment rose to 4.5 percent in October, suggesting a slowdown in the job market despite steady improvements in corporate profits, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said. The figure was worse than the average forecast of economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires, who had expected the jobless rate to hold steady at September's level of 4.2 percent.
But analysts played down the significance of the increase. The total number of jobless fell 70,000 on year in October to 3.04 million people, marking the 29th straight month of declines, the ministry said. The number of those with jobs grew by 570,000 on-year to 64.09 million people, the sixth straight month of expansion.
After more than a decade of stagnation, the world's second largest economy has been slowly making a turnaround on the back of stronger exports and consumer spending, as companies cut costs and boost profits, the AP reported. The jobless rate hit 5.5 percent in 2002 and 2003, the worst show since the government began keeping such records in the 1950s.
Since the summer of 2003, the job market has gradually improved. The unemployment rate has been at 4 percent levels since March 2004, reaching as low as 4.1 percent in June this year, the lowest level since July 1998, when it stood at 4.1 percent.