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Japan's Unemployment Rate Rises


Japan's unemployment rate rose to 4.5 percent, and housing transactions increased in October.

Japan's job market did not do well in October, as unemployment rose to 4.5 percent. It was the first rise in three months, and compares with the 4.2 percent rate in September.

Labor Ministry officials blamed the rise in unemployment on people who voluntarily left their jobs to search for better ones.

Many government officials say the unemployment rise will be temporary and does not indicate a weakening of the economy.

October saw a 9.1 percent increase in housing rentals and sales over a year earlier, to almost 116,000 units. The rise followed a slight fall the previous month.

Mark Brown, the senior financial analyst at Japaninvest, says the overall trend in housing is good.

"Well, most of the growth in housing starts in October is a continuation of a previous trend," he said. "Particularly in central locations, property values are rising and in some places by as much as 20 to 30 percent. There is a lot of new money coming into the market, investment funds etcetera are chasing a number of good properties."

While housing sales rose, the nation's retail sales fell in October by 0.3 percent. It was the second monthly decline in a row, and indicates that consumers were buying fewer cars and less food and clothing.

The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry blamed unusually warm weather this year for the drop in demand for clothing. They also said sales of new car models released earlier this year have dropped.

Still, some economists say Japanese consumers may spend more in the next few months, because of rising salaries and winter bonuses at large companies. This year's winter bonuses will average nearly $6,900, an all time high. This means consumers will have more money to spend.

Fuel-conscious consumers can also look forward to cheaper prices for Toyota Motor's hybrid car, the Prius. Toyota will produce its gas-electric car in China, a move the company says will enable it to lower prices for the hybrids in Japan, Europe and the U.S.

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