Thu, Feb 27, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Jobless rate falls to 5.03%

AFP AND BLOOMBERG , TAIPEI

The nation's unemployment rate fell to 5.03 percent last month, down from 5.14 percent a year earlier, official data showed yesterday.

The January figure compared with 5.04 percent registered in December, according to the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS).

The number of people out of work was 504,000, compared with 505,000 in December, the DGBAS said.

The nation's jobless rate hit a record high of 5.35 percent in August last year, and reached 5.2 percent for the year on average.

The government last week forecast the economy will grow 3.68 percent this year after a 3.54 percent expansion last year. President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) plans to increase public works spending lower the jobless rate to 4.5 percent.

"The jobless rate probably won't rise as much as last year ahead of the elections as the government will try to keep it down somehow," said Shery Liao, an economist at Taiwan International Securities Corp (金鼎證券).

"Still, we are not sure if the government's spending will be reflected soon in the unemployment rate," she said.

The number of people who lost their jobs because of business closures and job cuts was 254,000 last month, up from 246,000 in December, the government said.

Meanwhile, workers' pay fell for the first time on record last year, as the jobless rate climbed to an all-time high. The average annual salary dropped 1.2 percent last year to NT$41,452 (US$1,192), the DGBAS said.

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