Hiring ratio rises for 7th straight month

The latest data from Japan's government shows companies are having a difficult time hiring workers. The ratio of job openings to seekers has increased for a 7th straight month.

The labor ministry says the figure in July ticked up to 1.29. This means there were 129 job openings for every 100 applicants.

The ratio was greater than 1 in all prefectures for the first time in over 2 years.

Jobs were up almost 48 percent in the hospitality and dining industry. Ministry officials say a lack of business restrictions despite a surge in coronavirus infections led to more opportunities at hotels and restaurants.

Openings in transport and postal services rose nearly 15 percent.

Those in manufacturing were up more than 14 percent, but the rate of increase has been slowing. The officials say soaring raw material costs are hurting corporate profits and could soon affect employment.

Meanwhile, the Internal Affairs Ministry says the seasonally adjusted jobless rate was unchanged for July. It stood at 2.6 percent for the third straight month.

The ministry says the number of people taking leaves of absence increased by about one million due to the spread of the coronavirus.

But they say most of these people will return to their jobs and not weigh on the unemployment figure.