Wed, Dec 24, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Long-term jobless hit record high

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The number of long-term unemployed and the length of time they stay jobless hit a record high this year, while last month's unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in more than two years, according to the Cabinet's Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics yesterday.

The report showed that the number of the long-term unemployed stands at 105,000 people this year. This figure was 94,000 last year, 58,000 in 2001, 39,000 in 2000 and 30,000 in 1999.

The length of time people stay out of work also increased. It took the unemployed an average of 31.1 weeks to find a new job this year. They spent on average 29.3 weeks outside the job market last year, 25.7 weeks in 2001, 24.7 weeks in 2000 and 23 weeks in 1999.

Long-term unemployment is defined as being out of work for more than one year, or 53 weeks.

The study also indicated that long-term unemployed men outnumbered long-term unemployed women over the years. The ratio of long-term unemployed men to women this year is 73 to 27. It was 77 to 23 last year, 78 to 22 in 2001, 73 to 27 in 2000 and 74 to 26 in 1999.

Young to middle-aged people continue to make up the largest portion of the long-term unemployed this year.

While those aged between 25 and 44 account for 55.5 percent of the total long-term unemployed population this year, those aged 45 to 64 takes up 28.8 percent and those aged 15 to 24 occupies 15.8 percent.

Last year, those aged between 25 and 44 accounted for 58 percent of the long-term unemployed population, while those aged between 45 and 64 took up 27.9 percent. The 15-to-24 age group occupied 14.1 percent.

Educational background also plays a pivotal role in long-term unemployment, according to the report.

This year, while more than 38 percent of the long-term unemployed population hold a junior high school diploma, over 37 percent are senior high school graduates and about 24 percent have a college degree or above.

Last year junior high school diploma holders took up over 45 percent of the long-term unemployed, while about 34 percent were senior high school diploma holders and more than 20 percent were college graduates or had higher degrees.

Despite the statistics, the same agency announced on Monday that last month's unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in more than two years amid a decline in first-time job seekers.

Last month's jobless rate, dropping from October's 4.92 percent to 4.71 percent in November, was the lowest level since June 2001.

The government hopes to further drop the jobless rate for the full year from last year's 5.17 percent to 4.99 percent if the December unemployment rate drops below 4.6 percent as expected.

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