Japan Feb jobless rate falls to 4.6 pct

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TOKYO, March 29 (Reuters) – Japan’s jobless rate fell in February and the availability of
jobs improved, government data showed on Tuesday, suggesting the economy was gradually escaping
from a lull, although this month’s devastating earthquake and tsunami clouded the outlook for
business activity.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent in February from 4.9 percent
in January, compared with economists’ median forecast of 4.9 percent, figures from the Ministry
of Internal Affairs and Communications showed.

The jobless data excluded three prefectures — Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima — that were hit
hardest by the earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

The jobs-to-applicants ratio rose to 0.62, its highest reading since January 2009, separate
data from the labour ministry showed. It matched the median forecast and followed a
0.61 reading in January.

The number of new job offers rose 22.9 percent in February from a year earlier, gaining for
a 12th month in a row, and rose a seasonally adjusted 4.0 percent from the previous month.

(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Edmund Klamann)

Japan Feb jobless rate falls to 4.6 pct