Fri, Feb 25, 2011 - Page 12 News List

Jobless rate drops to a two-year low

MOMENTUM SLOWING?Citigroup’s chief economist said last month’s seasonally adjusted rate was slightly higher than the market’s expectation of 4.68 percent

By Amy Su  /  Staff Reporter

The nation’s unemployment rate, a lagging economic indicator, dropped to a two-year low of 4.64 percent last month, from 4.67 percent in December, as firms recruited staff to meet increasing demand amid the global economic recovery, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday.

Seasonally adjusted, the unemployment rate stood at 4.71 percent last month, a more reliable indicator of the long-term trend, sliding from 4.72 percent in December. The rate has fallen for 17 consecutive months, DGBAS data showed.

“The number of unemployed people fell further last month thanks to local companies hiring more staff to meet rising demand before the Lunar New Year holiday,” DGBAS senior executive officer Chen Min (陳憫) told a media briefing.

Last month, the number of unemployed workers fell by 3,000 to 517,000, with the number of temporary and part-time positions being filled falling by 2,000, the report said.

The falling unemployment rate was also helped by the government hiring more workers, with a record high of 1.07 million people employed last month, 106,000 more than in October 2008, before the global economic recession hit, Chen said.

However, the number of unemployed could show a slight increase this month as demand for temporary and part-time workers decreases after the Lunar New Year holiday, she said.

However, Henry Ho (何啟聖), a public relations director at Job Bank 1111, remained optimistic that the rate would keep falling this month, as historical data showed that the number of job openings typically hit a peak after the Lunar New Year.

Cheng Cheng-mount (鄭貞茂), chief economist at Citigroup in Taipei, said by telephone that last month’s seasonally adjusted rate was slightly higher than the market’s expectation of 4.68 percent, showing that momentum in the improving labor market was starting to slow.

If, as predicted, the nation’s seasonally adjusted rate remains at about 4.7 percent over the next few months, the market’s focus would change to wages data, he said.

The DGBAS yesterday also unveiled its latest data on wages, another lagging economic gauge, with workers earning an average of NT$36,271 per month last year, up 1.82 percent from a year earlier and the largest increase in 10 years.

Adding in year-end and other bonuses, the average wage rose to NT$44,430 per month last year, up 5.34 percent from the previous year, not only the biggest increase in 16 years, but also a new all-time high, the data showed.

The average wage is expected to increase 3 percent year-on-year to NT$37,337.5 this month, reflecting companies’ increased profits last year, Cheng said.

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