Wed, Jul 23, 2003 - Page 11 News List

Unemployment figures raise hope

LOOKING UP Although joblessness last month rose slightly from the month before, it was better than a year ago and the government is spending money to create work

AFP AND BLOOMBERG , TAIPEI

Unemployment last month rose to 5.09 percent from 4.98 percent the month before due to more first-time job seekers, but the figure was down from 5.11 percent a year earlier, official data showed yesterday.

The unemployment rate was a seasonally adjusted 5.16 percent, compared to 5.13 percent a year earlier, the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics reported yesterday.

The number of people out of work rose to 512,000 from 499,000 in May, according to the directorate.

Last month's figure mainly reflects a rise of 9,000 in first-time job seekers, plus a further 3,000 who became unemployed at the end of seasonal or temporary jobs.

There was a decline of 3,000 in the number of people who lost jobs due to company closures or cutbacks.

The directorate said it expects unemployment to average 5.1 percent in the three months to September and about 4.7 percent in the last quarter of the year.

"Given the 5.04 percent unemployment rate in the first half, the average for full-year 2003 is estimated at 4.9 percent," the directorate's bureau of census deputy director Chen Jin-cherng (陳金城) said.

"Government efforts to provide temporary jobs are expected to create a cumulative 69,000 jobs by the end of September, making a 0.4 percentage point reduction in unemployment [from last month] possible," Chen said.

"However, the entry of job seekers fresh out of schools is set to offset the decline and bring about a 0.4-percentage point increase in unemployment," he added.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said on Saturday that a NT$20 billion (US$581 million) budget package aimed at expanding the civil service is expected to provide 97,000 jobs in the next two months.

Chen, who raised his forecast for the average jobless rate this year to 4.8 percent from 4.5 percent, said the rate may drop to as low as 4.25 percent by the end of this year and continue falling in 2004.

He promised in November to tackle rising unemployment, saying it had strained social resources, hurt individual and family finances and threatened social stability.

"We should be able to gauge the effectiveness of the government spending in this month and next month, when there is usually a huge jump in job seekers because of school graduates," said Frank Yow (游偉誌), research manager at 104 Job Bank (104人力銀行), the country's largest online recruiter.

On May 2, the Legislative Yuan passed a NT$58.4 billion (US$1.67 billion) special budget aimed at creating some 40,000 jobs in public works projects and bringing unemployment down to 4.5 percent. The nation's unemployment rate reached a record 5.35 percent last August.

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