Taiwan’s unemployment rate dropped to a two-year low of 4.67 percent last month, from 4.73 percent in November, as firms expanded staff to meet increasing demand amid the economic recovery, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday.
The jobless rate, a lagging economic indicator, averaged 5.21 percent last year, the second highest after the record 5.85 percent recorded in 2009, as companies put off hiring new workers until after the nation fully recovered from the global financial crisis.
Seasonally adjusted unemployment stood at 4.73 percent last month, a more reliable indicator of the long-term trend, sliding from 4.79 percent in November, the 16th straight month it fell, DGBAS data showed.
“The number of unemployed people fell further last month, falling in line with shrinking numbers of first-time jobseekers, business closures and downsizing,” Liu Tian-syh (劉天賜), a deputy -director at the agency, told a media briefing.
Last month, the jobless population decreased by 7,000 people to 520,000, with the number of first-time jobseekers falling by 4,000, the report said.
The number of unemployed averaged 577,000 last year, down 62,000 from 2009, thanks to a sharp increase in private investment, as well as robust exports, the report said.
Recovering business outlook enlarged the job pool to 10.61 million last month, an increase of 8,000 from a month earlier, the report said.
The number of employed rose 2.09 percent year-on-year to 10.49 million last year.
Liu expects the jobless reading to drop further ahead of the week-long Lunar New Year holidays, which begin on Feb. 2 this year, as retailers normally expand temporary staff to meet growing business demand.
The nation’s largest online human resources firm, 104 Job Bank, echoed the positive view, saying available jobs rose to a six-month high of 361,000 this month, surging 46 percent from a year earlier.
“Job opportunities hit 1.3 times the number of jobseekers in December, turning positive for the third consecutive month from 1.1 times in November,” 104 Job Bank public relations manager Max Fang (方光瑋) said.
The retail sector has reported the biggest labor shortage, followed by makers of consumer electronics and restaurants, Fang said.
Meanwhile, regular wages, another lagging economic gauge, averaged NT$36,445 per month in November, down 0.1 percent from October, but up 1.58 percent from a year earlier, a separate report showed.
Adding year-end and other bonuses, the average wage amounted to NT$39,650 per month in November, down 0.96 percent from October, when some firms distributed performance bonuses, Liu said.
“The latest pay data shows wage recovery dragging behind the growth in industrial production that hit a record in November,” the statistics official said.
However, only 31 percent of the firms polled by 1111 Job Bank planned to raise employees’ salaries, while the other 69 percent said they would be unchanged, citing weak earnings, the job bank said.