The unemployment rate slid to 3.79 percent last month, the lowest in 14 years, due to a modest decrease in business closures and the number of first-time job seekers, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday.
The jobless rate fell from 3.89 percent in November, as hotels, restaurants and retailers increased their head count to meet demand during the Christmas and New Year holidays, the statistics agency said.
“The growth momentum is likely to carry over into this month and slightly beyond,” as Taiwanese celebrate the Lunar New Year holidays from Feb. 18 to the following week, DGBAS Deputy Director Lo Yi-ling (羅怡玲) said.
The seasonally adjusted jobless rate stood at 3.84 percent last month, down from 3.87 percent in November, the agency’s report showed.
A total of 439,000 people were unemployed last month, compared with 451,000 one month earlier.
For the whole of last year, the unemployment rate averaged 3.96 percent, the lowest since 2007, when it was 3.91 percent, the DGBAS said.
That left Taiwan trailing behind its regional peers: Singapore had a jobless rate of 2 percent, Hong Kong 3.3 percent, South Korea 3.4 percent and Japan 3.5 percent.
The number of first-time job seekers decreased by 7,000 last month, while people who lost their jobs due to business closures or seasonal factors dropped by 2,000, the report said.
The number of people who quit on their own accord fell by 1,000.
Domestic demand is expected to lend greater support to economic growth this year, as savings from transportation expenses due to falling oil prices could lift disposable income and boost spending, central bank Governor Perng Fai-nan (彭淮南) said last month.
Unemployment was again highest among people with a university or higher degree at 4.99 percent, followed by college graduates at 4.35 percent and high-school graduates at 3.83 percent, the DGBAS said.
By age, the 15-to-24 category had the highest unemployment rate at 12.63 percent, compared with 4.13 percent for the 25-to-44 age group and 2.09 percent for the 45-to-64 age bracket, it said.
Meanwhile, the monthly wage averaged NT$38,279 (US$1,211) in November, an increase of 1.8 percent from a year earlier, the agency said in a separate report.
For the first 11 months of last year, the monthly wage rose to a record-high of NT$38,161, an uptick of 1.76 percent from the same period last year, the report said.
The real wage averaged NT$36,690 in November, after factoring in inflation of 1.26 percent, it said.
The wage increase could be a boon to consumer confidence and lift private consumption, economists have said.
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