Tue, Dec 23, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Unemployment rate falls to 4.71 percent


The nation's unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in more than two years amid a decline in first-time job seekers, less corporate downsizing and fewer business closures, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday.

The jobless rate for last month, without adjusting for seasonal changes, dropped to 4.71 percent from 4.92 percent in October, the DGBAS said. It was the lowest level since June 2001, when unemployment was at 4.51 percent. Last month's figure was down 0.51 percentage points compared to a year ago.

The number of people out of work fell to 477,000 from 497,000 a month earlier, reflecting fewer first-time job seekers and fewer jobs lost due to factory closures or cutbacks, the DGBAS said. The number of people thrown out of work because of business closures and job cuts was 184,000 last month, compared to 199,000 in October, it added.

Taiwanese companies are hiring more workers to meet overseas demand. For the full year, the jobless rate would likely fall to 4.99 percent from last year's 5.17 percent, if the December unemployment rate drops below 4.6 percent as expected, said Chen Jin-cherng (陳金城), a deputy director at the statistics agency. The job market is expected to continue improving this month as the economy recovers, he added.

The government's NT$20 billion jobs program, implemented after the outbreak of SARS this year, also helped lower unemployment, Chen said.

As of Nov. 18 the program had provided work for 102,000 people, a figure that takes into account 72,000 civil service jobs as well as others in small and medium-sized companies that took advantage of hiring incentives offered by the government.

In the period from January to last month, the unemployment rate was 5.03 percent, down 0.15 percentage points from last year, the DGBAS said.

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