Jobless rate improves slightly to 4.27%

OUTLOOK::Analysts indicate that economic growth is not strong enough to boost corporate hiring, but there is a chance that the number of job seekers can fall further

By Camaron Kao  /  Staff reporter

Sun, Dec 23, 2012 - Page 13

The jobless rate improved slightly to 4.27 percent last month, hitting its lowest level since July after a prolonged job-seeking season ended, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday.

The jobless rate last month dropped 0.06 percentage points from 4.33 percent in October.

“The decline in the jobless rate last month was because college graduates found jobs last month,” DGBAS deputy director Chen Min (陳憫) told a press conference.

The 0.06 percentage points improvement was small, National Central University economics professor Hsu Chih-chiang (徐之強) said by telephone yesterday, indicating that the nation’s economic growth was not strong enough to boost corporate hiring.

In comparison, Hong Kong posted a 3.4 percent unemployment rate last month. South Korea and Singapore reported jobless rates of 3 percent in October and 1.9 percent in September respectively, according to figures available from the DGBAS.

In Taiwan, the number of people out of work dropped to 487,000 last month, from 493,000 in October, the DGBAS said.

Among the jobless, the number of first-time job seekers decreased last month by 4,000 month-on-month, according to the statistics agency.

First-time job seekers spent longer looking for jobs last month, on average 28.1 weeks, from 25.8 weeks in October, the agency said.

Hsu said he did not expect the nation’s job market to improve significantly in the near term because people are used to hunting for opportunities to change their careers around the Lunar New Year holidays.

This may cause the job market to fluctuate, he said.

“After March next year, there is a chance for the unemployment rate to drop further and average salaries to rise,” Hsu said.

The Lunar New Year holidays next year fall in February.

Separately, Taiwan’s average wage excluding annual bonuses rose 0.46 percent — the slowest annual pace in three years — to NT$37,343 in October, from NT$37,172 the previous year, the DGBAS said, blaming the nation’s consistent economic weakness.

On a monthly basis, the average wage rose 0.23 percent from NT$37,256 in September, the DGBAS’ tally showed.

“Fewer companies increased their employees’ salaries this year than previous years, because of the dire economic conditions since the fourth quarter of last year,” Chen said.

In the first 10 months of this year, real average wages slid 0.55 percent year-on-year to NT$37,335 after inflation, according to the DGBAS.