Japan's unemployment rate fell to 2.4 percent in January from 2.5 percent in the previous month for the first improvement in three months, as fewer people were laid off amid a labor shortage, the government said Friday.

The job availability ratio was unchanged from December at 1.27, meaning there were 127 jobs available for every 100 job seekers, according to separate government data.

The total number of people with jobs in January fell 30,000 from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted 67.61 million, while those who were unemployed dropped 1.2 percent to 1.70 million, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

Among them, 750,000 people left their jobs voluntarily, down 1.3 percent, while 360,000 people were dismissed, down 7.7 percent from the previous month.

A ministry official attributed the improvement in the jobless rate to a decrease in the number of people leaving jobs involuntarily due to company bankruptcies or restructuring.

"The labor market remains tight," said Yuichi Kodama, chief economist at the Meiji Yasuda Research Institute.

"Employment in the entertainment and other face-to-face service sectors continue to grow steadily, while the information and communication sector is seeing more employment due to a recovery in the semiconductor industry," he said.

The number of unemployed women rose 60,000 to 730,000, as more women leave their jobs in search of better working conditions amid an economic recovery, the official said. The figure for men declined 90,000 to 960,000.

The latest job-to-applicant ratio remained unchanged, as a wide range of industries including the medical and welfare sector were facing a labor shortage, while the construction and manufacturing sectors were unable to offer job openings as their profits are squeezed by rising inflation.

Among the sectors that increased job offers in January, lifestyle and entertainment services rose 5.7 percent and information and communications climbed 4.5 percent, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

Meanwhile, job offers in the manufacturing sector dropped 11.6 percent, while those in the accommodation and food services industry shed 8.8 percent.