Japan's unemployment rate rose to 4.7% in July from 4.6% the previous month for the second straight month of deterioration amid the continuing aftermath of the massive March earthquake and tsunami, the internal affairs ministry said today.
But some analysts were not necessarily pessimistic about the overall labor environment, as separate government data showed the country's job availability improved for the second straight month.
According to a preliminary report by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, the number of unemployed increased 50,000 from June to 2.94 million and the number of employed dropped 40,000 to 59.59 million, respectively, on a seasonally adjusted basis.
A ministry official attributed the outcome partly to the tough employment conditions in the accommodation as well as the eating and drinking services industries that have seen customers decrease after the March disasters.
He also said that the country's power shortage woes stemming from the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant may have negatively affected the hiring of temporary workers.
The jobless rate excludes data from three prefectures hit hardest by the March disaster -- Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima -- because of the difficulty of fully conducting the survey.
Ryohei Kasahara, an economist at the Daiwa Institute of Research, said that, while the unemployment rate data alone was "not good," signs of gradual improvement could be seen from the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry data which showed the ratio of job offers to job seekers rise to 0.64 in July from 0.63 in June.
This means 64 jobs were available for every 100 job seekers.
"The impact of the quake is continuing in July...but looking ahead, the environment, such as for the accommodation industry, appears to be gradually improving and I believe the overall labour condition will recover from around the latter half of the year," he said.
As for the yen's recent sharp rise that may lead manufacturers to shift their operations overseas, Kasahara said that the factor is unlikely to take its toll in the short term, but warned that it could cause a decrease in jobs in the longer term.
The jobless rate for men rose 0.2 percentage point to 4.9%, while the rate remained unchanged for women at 4.5%.