The unemployment rate dropped to 4.28 percent last month from 4.45 percent in August, an indication that the rising economic uncertainties have not factored in this lagging economic indicator, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday.
Last month’s jobless rate also marked the first decline after rising consecutively for the previous three months, DGBAS data showed.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, an indicator of the long-term trend, slid 0.09 percentage points from the previous month to 4.27 percent last month.
“Following the end of the graduation season, fewer first-time jobseekers left school to join the job market, further lowering the unemployment rate,” Chen Min (陳憫), a deputy director at the statistics bureau, told a press conference.
The number of unemployed decreased by 21,000 from a month earlier to 481,000, with the number of first-time jobseekers down by 7,000, the DGBAS said.
The number of employed declined by 32,000 last month, mostly due to the seasonal factor of short-term summer jobs ending, the DGBAS said. As for recent media reports that more technology companies were asking their employees to take unpaid leave, Chen said this might not be reflected in the unemployment rate.
“Only workers who have left their job for more than a month, who don’t have receive any pay, but are still looking for work, would be counted among the unemployed,” Chen said.
In addition, the jobless rate is a three-to-six-month lagging economic indicator, she said.
However, the average number of working hours would drop in the near future if companies continued to encourage workers to take annual leave or unpaid leave, Chen said.
The latest data released by the DGBAS seem to partly reflect this view, with workers on average performing 15.7 hours of overtime work last month, the lowest level since February.
Cheng Cheng-mount (鄭貞茂), chief economist of Citigroup in Taipei, said the unemployment rate improved unexpectedly last month. He had expected the seasonally adjusted jobless rate last month to climb to 4.43 percent.
“Going forward, we believe job markets will likely remain stable as the service sector pick up the slack from the manufacturing sector,” Cheng wrote in a research note yesterday.
The DGBAS report also showed that salaries, another lagging economic gauge, expanded for the 22nd consecutive month in August. Workers earned an average of NT$36,943 per month, up 1.75 percent from a year ago.
For the first eight months of the year, salaries on average grew 1.38 percent to NT$36,656, while compensation, including bonuses, on average, rose 10.72 percent to NT$47,302, data showed.
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