Tue, Aug 25, 2009 - Page 1 News List

MORAKOT: THE AFTERMATH: Unemployment tops 6 percent, Morakot not yet factored in

MORE BAD NEWS DGBAS official Liu Tian-shy said the rate was expected to start to fall next month, while some analysts were not expecting an improvement

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The nation’s unemployment rate rose to a new high of 6.07 percent last month, as an extra 14,000 first-time job seekers entered the labor market and firms tightened overheads to weather the slump, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday.

The nominal index, which has yet to factor in the impact of Typhoon Morakot, is expected to rise again next month and remain high until the economy recovers, the statistics agency said.

“The jobless rate gained 0.13 percentage points to 6.07 percent in July, the highest since the survey began in 1978,” said Liu Tian-shy (劉天賜), deputy director at DGBAS’ census bureau. “The number of people unemployed rose by 16,000 to 663,000, with 1.39 million people affected by unemployment.”

The jobless reading after seasonal adjustment stood at 6.01 percent, also the highest in 31 years, the report showed.

JOB SEEKERS

Liu attributed the deteriorating job market to the seasonal upsurge in the number of first-time job seekers between May and August, while companies have been conservative on personnel recruitment amid the downturn.

Liu said the typhoon would make job hunting more difficult this month and beyond.

Some 60,000 working people live in the areas hardest hit by the disaster, Liu said, putting the working population there at 20,000.

“The impact of the storm remains to be seen, depending on the pace of relief and reconstruction efforts,” Liu said. “The disaster hurt the agricultural, tourist, dining and retail sectors.”

He said unemployment would have hit 6.47 percent if the government had not hired 1.04 million people through assorted stimulus and job-creation programs.

Meanwhile, the broad unemployment measure, which refers both to the unemployed and discouraged job hunters, stood at 7.59 percent last month, the report said.

DIFFERING OPINIONS

Liu said the job market would improve next month. Analysts did not share Liu’s optimism.

Jack Huang (黃蔭基), head of research at SinoPac Financial Holdings Co (永豐金控), said the unemployment reading were likely to rise for the remainder of the year after the job-creation programs had failed to keep the index under 6 percent.

“The job market will continue worsening in the coming months because of first-time job seekers and Morakot,” Huang said by telephone. “That trend, however, will not derail the economy from the road to recovery.”

Wu Chung-shu (吳中書), an economics researcher at Academia Sinica, said he was not certain that the jobless rate would fall in September.

“The nation remains in a down-cycle, though the pace of decline has eased,” Wu said.

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