The level of joblessness last month climbed for the fourth straight month to 4.4 percent, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday, adding that the nation’s unemployment rate might improve this month based on historical experience.
The rate of unemployment — an indicator of slowing economic performance — last month marked its highest level since August last year and was up from 4.31 percent in July, the agency said in its monthly report.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, a more reliable indicator of the long-term trend, was up 0.04 percentage points from the previous month to 4.29 percent last month, the report said.
“The seasonal effect continued to be the main factor that pushed up the jobless rate last month,” DGBAS deputy director Chen Min (陳憫) told a press conference.
A majority of the college graduates entering the labor market have done so in the past few months, but some have not received job offers yet, which is why unemployment has continued to climb, Chen said.
The slowing economic sentiment was another factor that helped drag down the labor market as a conservative attitude among employers made them less likely to recruit personnel, including first-time jobseekers, Chen added.
The latest data showed that 502,000 people were unemployed last month, an increase of 12,000 from the previous month, with the number of first-time jobseekers failing to find employment rising by 8,000.
The increase was also reflected in growing youth unemployment, with joblessness among 15-to-24-year-olds rising 0.65 percentage points from July to 13.61 percent last month, its highest level this year, the report showed.
However, Chen said the historical trend in the rate of unemployment showed that the figure usually rose to its highest annual level in August and further improved in the following months.
This would indicate that this month’s jobless rate remains an important indicator to evaluate the current national labor market situation, Chen added.
Tony Phoo (符銘財), a Taipei-based economist at Standard Chartered Bank, said that he expected the unemployment rate to show an improvement from this month, as exports return to a modest level of growth in the fourth quarter.
“Regardless of the impact of the seasonal effect, the employment situation has not improved over the past three months,” Phoo said in a telephone interview.
Phoo expected the unemployment rate could drop to between 4.2 percent and 4.3 percent by the end of this year, with job openings offered by the service sector and the financial industry leading the trend.
The DGBAS also released the latest salary data yesterday, which showed that national monthly salaries averaged NT$37,435 (US$1,270) in July, up 1.63 percent from a year ago.
However, when bonuses and other forms of compensation are included, the average monthly remuneration package showed a 0.44 percent markdown from a year earlier and stood at NT$42,535 in July, the data showed.