The unemployment rate in Taoyuan County remained at 4.3 percent last year, which is the same as the year before and the highest among Taiwan’s six special municipalities, putting it at a draw with Nantou County and Yilan County for the country’s highest unemployment rate. This is the fourth time since Taoyuan County Commissioner John Wu took office four years ago that the municipality’s unemployment rate has exceeded the national average, drawing unified criticism for not improving the employment situation from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidates who hope to run against Wu in the first mayoral election for Taoyuan County after it is elevated to the special municipality level at the end of the year. In response, the Taoyuan County Government Labor and Human Resources Bureau says it has drawn up several plans to resolve the unemployment issue.
Taoyuan County will be upgraded to a special municipality at the end of the year. In the past, the county boasted that it was a major industrial and commercial county, claiming that the county government provided more employment opportunities than any other county or city in the nation. According to statistics from the Ministry of Labor, however, only 950,000 of the county’s total workforce of 998,000 had jobs last year, putting the unemployment rate at 4.3 percent, which is 0.12 percentage points higher than the national average of 4.18 percent. Taoyuan County’s overall job market is performing worse than the country’s other five special municipalities and has one of the highest unemployment rates in all of Taiwan.
Since Wu became commissioner at the end of 2009, unemployment in Taoyuan County has been higher than the national average since 2010, giving DPP hopefuls Peng Shao-chin, Cheng Pao-ching and Cheng Wen-tsan an opportunity in the upcoming first mayoral election for Taoyuan as a special municipality to stand united in their critique of Wu, saying the unemployment rate serves as an indicator for public suffering. Under Wu’s leadership no great strides have been made toward attracting more businesses, and industries are unable to transform. Specific employment policies do not exist and the unemployment rate remains high, which is one reason the DPP candidates are calling on the public to use their vote in the year-end election to bring about change.
In response, Chien Hsiu-lien, head of the labor bureau, says that job opportunities in Taoyuan County significantly outnumber the amount of people looking for jobs, with three jobs available on average for every jobseeker. Most of the job openings, however, are in labor-intensive industries, which Chien says is a deterrent for most young people and also the reason why companies are forced to bring in foreign workers to fill the labor shortage. Taoyuan County’s 83,000 foreign workers pose an indirect threat to the nation’s indigenous workforce, Chien says.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)