Japan April jobless rate holds steady at 3.6%

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's jobless rate held steady at 3.6 per cent in April, unchanged from the previous month, and the availability of jobs rose to the highest in nearly eight years, government data showed, in an encouraging sign that a tighter labour market will boost wages and support consumer spending.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications on Friday, matched the median market estimate of 3.6 per cent. It followed a reading of 3.6 per cent in March and February, a level that had last been seen in July 2007.

The jobs-to-applicants ratio rose to 1.08 from 1.07 in the previous month, separate data from the labour ministry showed.

That was better than the median estimate for 1.07 and matched a high last seen in July 2006, two years before the Lehman bankruptcy triggered a global financial crisis.

The number of new job offers rose 3.7 per cent in April from the previous month and was up 10.0 per cent from a year ago.