The nation last month saw its first decline in the number of manufacturing sector employees since July, when the US-China trade dispute began, but the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) yesterday said it would take more time to determine whether trade issues are affecting the labor market.
The DGBAS’ remarks came after it reported that the unemployment rate edged down to 3.75 percent last month, the lowest in October for 18 years and a decrease of 0.11 percentage points from a month earlier.
For the first 10 months, the average unemployment rate was 3.71 percent, also the lowest in 18 years for the same period, the DGBAS said at a news conference in Taipei.
After seasonal adjustments, the unemployment gauge was 3.7 percent last month, flat from a month earlier.
The rate this year had stayed between 3.67 percent and 3.7 percent prior to last month, DGBAS said.
“The labor market is still very stable, given that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained flat and the number of employed people advanced by 11,000 to 11.46 million last month,” DGBAS Census Department Deputy Director Pan Ning-hsin (潘寧馨) said.
However, the number of people employed in local industries decreased by 3,000 last month, including 1,000 from the manufacturing sector, the DGBAS said.
The number of manufacturing sector employees was on the rise earlier in the year, except for February due to the Lunar New Year holiday, it said.
Despite the decline in the manufacturing sector, the DGBAS said it was not worried, as the number of people employed in the sector increased by 4,000 in the July-to-October period.
“The decline might be a signal that the manufacturing sector took a hit from the trade dispute, but we cannot jump to a conclusion right now,” Pan said, adding that the DGBAS would monitor the situation closely.
The report showed that among newly employed people last month, 54.5 percent were aged 45 to 64, while 36 percent were aged 15 to 24.
While the number of employees in the manufacturing sector — which accounted for 26.8 percent of total employees — decreased last month, the number of employees in the service sector expanded by 14,000 to 6.81 million, or 59.4 percent of the overall workforce.
The rise in service-sector employment came as workers moved from the manufacturing sector, the DGBAS said.
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