Japan's unemployment rate in February rose 0.2 point from the previous month to 2.6 percent, worsening for the first time in five months, as more people sought better working conditions amid an economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, the government said Friday.

The job availability ratio for the reporting month fell 0.01 point from January to 1.34, worsening for the second straight month, separate government data showed. The ratio means there were 134 job openings for every 100 job seekers.

"The employment situation is gradually improving, although some industries have been struggling," said labor minister Katsunobu Kato, adding that the effects of rising prices need to be monitored.

The total number of unemployed stood at a seasonally adjusted 1.80 million people in February, up 7.8 percent from the previous month.

Among them, 760,000 people voluntarily left their jobs, up 11.8 percent, while 450,000 were dismissed, also up 7.1 percent.

"Some people may have begun looking for new jobs ahead of the new fiscal year or quit their jobs for higher wages," an official at the internal affairs ministry said.

As for job openings, the hotel and restaurant industry marked the sharpest increase of 37.2 percent from a year earlier, followed by a 23.7 percent jump in offers in the education sector.

There was only a growth of 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent in the manufacturing and construction industries, respectively.

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