Fri, May 23, 2008 - Page 12 News List

Unemployment rate and real wages both decline

By Kevin Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The nation’s unemployment rate fell to 3.81 percent last month from 3.86 percent in March because the number of first-time job seekers declined by 6,000 and the number of seasonal workers fell by 4,000, the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday.

The figure for last month was the lowest rate in April since 2006, when the rate was 3.78 percent, and the lowest rate since January when the figure was 3.80 percent, DGBAS said in a statement posted on its Web site.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, unemployment stood at 3.92 percent, up 0.02 percentage points from the previous month, but 0.03 percentage points lower than a year earlier, the statistics bureau’s data showed.

Unemployment in the first four months of the year averaged 3.85 percent, up 0.02 percentage points from the same period last year, the statement said.

As companies hired more workers to cope with rising demand, DGBAS said the number of unemployed fell to 412,000 last month from 417,000 in March.

The eligible workforce stood at 10.39 million for the month, up 15,000 from March and 150,000 more than a year earlier, DGBAS’ tallies showed. Moreover, the average workforce was 10.38 million people in the first four months of the year, up 136,000, or 1.33 percent, from a year earlier, which indicated stable growth momentum in the domestic labor market, Central News Agency reported yesterday, citing Huang Chien-chung (黃建中), a deputy director at DGBAS.

With the decline in the jobless rate last month, Huang said the nation was not exposed to a risk of “stagflation,” in which both the unemployment rate and the inflation rate grow, the report said. The nation’s consumer prices rose 3.86 percent last month year-on-year, DGBAS reported on May 5.

Cheng Cheng-mount (鄭貞茂), chief economist at Citigroup Inc Taiwan, said the seasonally-adjusted figure of 3.92 percent last month was in line with the bank’s and the market’s expectations. Cheng said that the latest data would have little impact on financial markets and reveal no new direction on future consumption trends.

“Although a stable job market would support a gradual recovery in private consumption, limited pick-up in nominal wages continues to cap consumption growth,” Cheng wrote.

Nominal wages increased by 1.91 percent year-on-year in March and 1.56 percent year-on-year in the first quarter. The average real wage, however, dropped 1.87 percent year-on-year to NT$34,375 in the first three months because of the inflation-erosion effect, DGBAS data showed.

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