Wed, Feb 04, 2009 - Page 12 News List

Number of unemployed seeking benefits hits high

STAFF WRITER, WITH AFP

The number of jobless people claiming benefits hit a record 60,000 in the last quarter of last year, officials said yesterday.

The figure made up half of the claims for the entire year, official data showed.

“The number marked the highest level since the government started in 2002 to provide short-term benefits to those who lost their jobs,” Robert Lai of the Employment and Vocational Training Administration said.

“The economy showed signs of weakening in June when the number of jobs offered by companies began falling,” Lai said.

TV images showed people waiting in long lines outside job centers yesterday.

“We’ve never seen this before,” a job center official said.

Around 16,000 people flocked to the 11 major official job centers on Monday following the nine-day Lunar New Year holiday, the administration’s data showed.

More than 12,800 of those claimed the six-month unemployment benefit, almost 30 times as many as the 440 people who did so during the same period last year, while the rest were job seekers.

In December the jobless rate hit 5.03 percent, the highest level since September 2003.

Meanwhile, Hsinchu Science Park (新竹科學園區) last year saw its biggest job losses in the park’s 28-year history. Of the approximately 4,300 workers who were laid off, the majority lost their jobs in the last quarter, media reported yesterday.

The park’s data showed that 1,900 workers were laid off in December alone, the Broadcasting Corp of China (BCC) reported yesterday.

The number of layoffs could rise this year if the economic downturn does not bottom out in the second quarter at the latest, the report said, citing an unidentified park administration official.

The park saw economic downturns in 2001 and 2005, but the number of job cuts then averaged between 100 and 200 workers per month, the report said.

The majority of the park’s 400 companies adopted cost-cutting measures last quarter, such as pay cuts and job cuts, the report said.

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