Despite a rise in nominal wages, the nation’s real wages fell in the first six months of the year compared with a year ago, as companies failed to raise salaries across the board following the strong economic expansion last year, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday.
DGBAS data on wages showed that workers on average earned NT$36,590 (US$1,260) per month in the first half of the year, edging up 1.3 percent from a year earlier.
However, after adjustment for inflation — which climbed 1.45 percent year-on-year in the first six months of the year — real wages fell 0.15 percent from a year earlier, data showed.
“This reflected local employers’ conservative attitude toward pay raises in the first half,” Chen Min (陳憫), a deputy director at the DGBAS, told a press conference.
After adding in year-end and other bonuses, nominal wages rose 3.28 percent from a year earlier to NT$48,947 per month, data showed. If adjusted for inflation, the increase would be smaller at 1.81 percent, it showed.
Both figures were still higher than the 1.31 growth in regular wages (bonuses not included), the DGBAS said.
“The results provided more evidence that employers prefer increasing bonuses rather than raising regular pay in view of the uncertainties ahead,” Chen said.
The DGBAS also released the latest unemployment data, which surged for the second straight month to 4.41 percent last month, up 0.06 percentage points from June.
“Historical data showed that the jobless rate usually rises in the June-to-August period, as more first-time jobseekers — who had just left school and entered the job market — have not found an appropriate position yet,” Chen said, adding that last month’s unemployment rate was 0.79 percentage points lower year-on-year.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, which he said was a more reliable indicator of the long-term trend, was down 0.03 percentage points from the previous month to 4.37 percent last month.
The number of unemployed increased by 10,000 from a month earlier to 496,000, with the number of first-time jobseekers failing to find a position rising by 9,000, the DGBAS said in a press release.
Chen also forecast that the unemployment rate would further climb this month, as new graduates continue to enter the job market during this period.
“That makes the jobless rate in September a key indicator of whether rising global uncertainties would affect the domestic job market in the second half,” Chen said.
Charlene Chang (張旭嵐), spokeswoman of 1111 Job Bank (1111人力銀行), said although the latest unemployment data showed the number of job vacancies were higher than the number of jobseekers last month, it may have been difficult for first-time job hunters to find work in the face of competition from more experienced jobseekers.
"The strong economic growth in the first six months [of the year] spurred a higher-than-expected number of experienced workers to quit their job and join the competition in looking for work," Chang said yesterday.
This story has been updated since it was first published.