Photo/Illutration The government building housing the labor ministry (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

The number of job seekers remains high despite a rebound in job openings apparently because much of the available work is limited to certain fields, according to the labor ministry.

Average monthly job openings in fiscal 2021, which ended in March, surged by 9.5 percent from a year earlier to about 2.266 million, ministry data showed.

The figure for fiscal 2020 dropped by 22.3 percent year on year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the latest data, an average 1.956 million people were seeking jobs per month, up 3.9 percent from fiscal 2020, when the figure jumped by 9.8 percent from a year earlier.

But the average number of those who landed jobs a month rose only slightly by 1.5 percent to about 104,000 in fiscal 2021.

That is likely because the economic impact of the pandemic has varied widely among industries.

Compared with two years ago, before the novel coronavirus had a serious economic effect, the number of new job openings in March increased by 32.4 percent in the manufacturing sector and 4 percent in the information and communication industry.

But the figure dropped by 7.6 percent in the wholesale and retail sector and 1.3 percent in the lodging, restaurant and service industry over the same period.

“Those who have worked in the restaurant and service sector, hit hardest by the pandemic, cannot find any available jobs in the industry even if they wanted to do the same work again,” a ministry official said.

According to a tally by Mynavi Corp., a major job information website operator, 36.6 percent of openings for regular work positions in 2021 were targeted at people with experience in the same field. The figure was up 12.6 percentage points from 2019.

“Companies are actively hiring those who are experienced, can immediately contribute to their businesses or have expertise in a particular field, such as digital skills,” said Tomo Hayakawa, a senior researcher at Mynavi Corp. “Not all job seekers are able to find work they want to do.”