Japan's jobless rate unchanged at 4.9% in January

TOKYO (AFP) – Japan's unemployment rate stood at 4.9 percent in January, unchanged from a month earlier in line with market forecasts, government data showed Tuesday.

The number of people out of work stood at 3.09 million, down 140,000 from a year earlier, in the eighth straight month of year-on-year decline, the official data showed.

Separate data showed job availability had improved from the previous month, with 61 positions available for every 100 job seekers, the health, labour and welfare ministry said.

The Japanese central bank and the government have raised their assessments of the economy, citing improving overseas demand.

But the country's reliance on exports to fuel growth was underlined by a 1.0 percent fall in January's household spending, the fourth consecutive month of decline after a 3.3 percent dip in December, signalling weak domestic demand.

The BoJ has left its key rate near zero in an ongoing battle with falling prices, which prompt consumers to defer purchase decisions therefore clouding the outlook for corporate investment and creating a drag on Japanese growth.

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