The unemployment rate last month edged down 0.03 percentage points to 3.64 percent, as fewer people quit their jobs, which more than made up for seasonal and temporary job losses, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday.
“The job market in January was stable as the labor participation and unemployment figures showed,” Census Department Deputy Director Pan Ning-hsin (潘寧馨) told a media briefing.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 3.71, down 0.01 percentage point from one month earlier, the agency said.
The latest data, collected from Jan. 5 to 11, did not reflect the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak that is hurting businesses such as tourism, hospitality and retail, and dampening confidence among jobseekers, Pan said.
The labor participation rate could take a downturn from the current level at 59.21 percent, Pan said, pointing out that the SARS outbreak in 2003 did not affect the jobless rate, but weakened labor participation for four straight months.
The trend of people switching jobs after the Lunar New Year holiday might slow this year, as people hold onto their job until the epidemic shows signs of stabilizing, he said.
If the outbreak persists and spreads further, companies might ask employees to take unpaid leave, cut back on operations or shut down altogether, Pan said, adding that it is too early to tell.
The jobless data might have failed to reflect the real situation, as many restaurants and retail stores have already cut working days due to a sharp decline in business, while a growing number of people are under different degrees of quarantine.
Last month, the number of unemployed people stood at 436,000, a decline of 3,000 from one month earlier, due to a fall in the number of first-time jobseekers and people who resigned, the agency said.
By education level, university graduates had the highest unemployment rate at 5.22 percent, followed by high-school graduates at 3.43 percent and people with graduate degrees at 2.88 percent, the survey showed.
People aged 20 to 24 had the highest unemployment rate at 11.98 percent; followed by the 15-19 age bracket at 8.86 percent; the 25-29 group at 6.51 percent; and the 30-34 group at 3.3 percent, it said.
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