With the world mired in an economic slowdown, an increasing number of Taiwanese are feeling uneasy about their economic security, with a record-high percentage of respondents in a Cathay Financial Holding Co (國泰金控) survey released yesterday expecting the job market to deteriorate and income to stall in the next six months.
About 69 percent of respondents said they felt it has become more difficult to find jobs now and 60 percent said they expected the difficulty to sharpen in the coming six months, the monthly report said.
The weakened sentiment corresponded with the number of workers on unpaid leave increasing by 449 this month to reach 2,044 as of yesterday, with 37 firms adopting the measure to cope with declining business, the Council of Labor Affairs said.
Another 27 percent of those polled expect the job market to remain unchanged, while only 5 percent reported feeling upbeat about job-hunting, the survey showed.
Cathay Financial attributed the respondents’ pessimistic views to the world’s lackluster demand for Taiwanese electronic goods despite the beginning of the shopping seasons in the West and China.
“Ongoing headcount adjustments have sunk the employment index to a record-low level,” Cathay Financial said in the report.
The survey also found that 80 percent of respondents expected consumer prices to climb higher in the next six months, and 92 percent said they noticed the cost of living had already gone up over the past six months.
Expectations of heightened inflationary pressures bode ill for consumer spending as 53 percent of those polled voiced plans to cut back on purchases of durable goods in the next six months and 46 percent indicated lower interest in big-ticket items, the survey said.
While 62 percent of respondents said they expected personal incomes to hold steady in the following six months, 29 percent voiced concerns that their incomes could decline.
Consequently, 68 percent of those surveyed said it is a bad time to buy real-estate properties and 53 percent believe it is also unwise to sell.
The findings sent an unfavorable message to the housing market after transactions eased somewhat last month, but are expected to pick up this quarter.
As for investment preferences, 48 percent of the survey’s participants said they would stand on their current cash positions, 38 percent aimed to cut equity holdings and 14 percent sought to increase their acquisition of risky assets.
The figures were consistent with expectations voiced by 42 percent of the respondents that the TAIEX would weaken in the next six months, the survey said.
Only 20 percent hold a bullish view, while 23 percent expect the main index to stay flat, the survey showed.