Japan’s December unemployment rate will decline when monthly employment growth reaches its highest level in 36 years.

Tokyo — Japan’s unemployment rate fell to 2.7% in December as government data showed on Tuesday that employment recorded the largest monthly increase in almost 36 years.

December’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was below 2.8% last month. This was also the median forecast for Reuters economist polls.

Seasonally adjusted employment has increased by 490,000, the largest since January 1986, to 66.7 million in December.

“Employment has increased in sectors such as hotels and restaurant services, reflecting low COVID-19 infection rates in December,” government officials said.

“But due to the increased coronavirus infection due to the Omicron mutant, we need to pay close attention to the (employment) outlook.”

The job availability gauge has also increased. The job seeker-applicant ratio for December was 1.16, up 0.01 points from the previous month’s reading and Reuters poll forecast of 1.16, according to Ministry of Labor data.