The unemployment rate edged down for a third straight month to 4.16 percent last month, from 4.18 percent a month earlier, an indication that the labor market is on a steady track, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday.
However, the latest data also showed that real wages — including bonuses and other forms of compensation — declined 1.6 percent last year compared with a year ago, as companies were hesitant to raise salaries amid a global slowdown, the DGBAS said.
The jobless rate, a lagging economic indicator, fell to its lowest level last month since May last year. The total number of unemployed decreased by a marginal 2,000 from December last year to 475,000, the DGBAS said in its monthly report.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, a more accurate indicator of the long-term trend, also fell for the third consecutive month to 4.2 percent last month, from 4.21 percent in December last year, the report said.
“Although the jobless rate didn’t fall significantly [over the last few months], the downward trend is a positive sign of a stabilizing labor market,” DGBAS deputy director Chen Min (陳憫) told a press conference.
Nonetheless, the unemployment rate among college graduates and above remained high at 5.13 percent last month, while the jobless rate for people aged 15 to 24 was 12.54 percent, data showed.
With optimism over the nation’s economic prospects this year rising, demand may climb, making it easier for people to find jobs and pulling down the unemployment rate.
Regis Chen (陳力孑), a marketing director at 104 Job Bank (104人力銀行), shared the government agency’s view.
Unemployment numbers usually rise the month after the Lunar New Year holiday, as seasonal demand to fill in part-time jobs end, Regis Chen said.
However, more local employers may offer new job openings, offsetting the impact of the end of seasonal demand, he said, adding that the latest survey conducted by the online manpower agency showed that about one-third of the companies registered on its job bank database would increase hiring next month.
The DGBAS also released average salary numbers, with workers earning an average of NT$37,346 per month last year, up 1.28 percent from a year earlier.
Adding in bonuses and other forms of compensation, the average monthly salary totaled NT$45, 888 last year, up 0.3 percent from the previous year, DGBAS data showed.
However, after adjustment for inflation — which climbed 1.93 percent year-on-year — real wages fell 1.6 percent from a year earlier, the third-largest decline in history, statistics showed.