Thu, Dec 23, 2010 - Page 12 News List

Unemployment rate drops to 4.73%

WU KEEPS JOB:The premier has said he would step down if unemployment exceeded 5% at year’s end, but without government programs, the jobless rate would be 5.18%

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan’s jobless rate fell for the 15th consecutive month to 4.73 percent last month, the lowest since December 2008, from 4.92 percent in October, as businesses hired more workers amid the economic recovery, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics said yesterday

Seasonally adjusted unemployment stood at 4.79 percent last month, from 4.96 percent in October, the DGBAS’ latest data showed.

“The job market improved last month as firms in different sectors increased the number of staff on rosy business outlook,” Liu Tian-syh (劉天賜), a deputy director at the statistics agency, told a media briefing.

Liu expects the jobless rate to edge down further ahead of the Lunar New Year because retailers normally expand temporary staff to meet growing business demand. However, he declined to make a forecast.

Last month, the number of unemployed totaled 527,000, shrinking 19,000 from a month earlier, the DGBAS’ report said.

The number of people who lost their jobs because of business downsizing or closures dropped 5.08 percent, or 9,000, to 180,000, the report said, indicating recovering confidence in the private sector.

The number of people who quit their jobs on their own dropped 8,000 last month from October, while first-time jobseekers fell by a modest 3,000, the report indicated.

The 104 Job Bank, the nation’s largest online human resource firm, said yesterday the number of job openings has exceeded that of jobseekers for the past three months, suggesting a downward trend in unemployment ahead.

However, assorted job-creation programs helped bring down the jobless rate by adding 1.05 million workers to government payrolls, Liu said. Without those job creation programs, the unemployment rate would have been 5.18 percent last month, he added.

Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said earlier this year he would step down if the jobless rate was still above 5 percent by the end of the year.

Last month, the number of employed people increased by 45,000 to 10.6 million with the construction industry adding 11,000 workers and wholesale and retail services hiring an extra 7,000, the DGBAS report showed.

People with a university degree or higher continued to top other groups with a jobless rate at 5.32 percent last month, followed by those with a high-school education at 5.10 percent, the report said.

Donna Kwok (郭浩庄), HSBC economist on Greater China, said Taiwan’s internal growth drivers have started rotating into position even though its economy remains heavily exposed to the global tech cycle.

“The recovery in Taiwan’s labor market is certain,” Kwok said in a statement released yesterday. “Unemployment has declined to a near two-year low and real wage growth has risen, helping to keep local commercial sales growth in the black.”

HSBC raised its forecast for Taiwan’s GDP growth to 9.6 percent this year from a previous estimate of 7.3 percent, and expects the economy to expand 4.7 percent next year.

Regular wages averaged NT$36,480 (US$1,192) a month in October, climbing 0.43 percent from a month earlier, an increase of 1.62 percent from the year--earlier level, a separate report from the DGBAS showed yesterday.

Adding year-end and other bonuses, the average wage amounted to NT$40,035, down 7.12 percent from September during which many firms distributed Moon Festival bonus, Liu said.

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