Thu, Jan 22, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Record numbers filing for unemployment, CLA says

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) has reported record-high numbers of applications for unemployment benefits last year, prompted by soaring unemployment that is expected to keep rising.

According to the latest statistics released by the CLA, as of the end of last year, 139,000 people had applied for unemployment benefits. Compared with year 2007, that number has risen by 60,000.

The statistics showed that every month from January to September last year, the number of applications had remained at below 10,000. Starting in October, that number started to climb drastically. In November and last month, the numbers soared to 19,000 and 39,000 respectively.

CLA Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) has said on many occasions that she expected the unemployment problem would continue to deteriorate until the second half of this year.

The council had intended to extend the period of eligibility for unemployment benefits from the current six months to nine months for the middle-aged and the elderly, as well as for handicapped workers.

However, in response to pressure by numerous labor groups’ pushing to extend unemployment benefits for all workers, Wang said the council would consider this “if conditions continue to worsen.”

The unemployment rate for November was 4.64 percent, with 507,000 people out of work. The Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics is scheduled to report last month’s unemployment numbers this afternoon.

Ryan Wu (吳睿穎), chief operating officer of 1111 Job Bank, predicted that the number of unemployed would exceed 550,000 people.

“The end of the year is a time when many businesses review their human resource allocation,” he said. “The unemployment rate is unlikely to remain at below 5 percent throughout this year.”

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