Greater Kaohsiung is the only special municipality that saw a decline in population last year, with the other five special municipalities — now including Greater Taoyuan — seeing their populations grow, a government survey showed.
Figures from the Cabinet’s Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics showed that Greater Taichung experienced the largest jump in population in the nation last year, gaining more than 18,000 new residents.
Taipei came in second, having assimilated more than 15,000 new residents, while Taoyuan was third with an additional 14,000 residents. New Taipei City followed with more than 11,000 newcomers.
Of the 22 cities and counties nationwide, 13 experienced population growth last year, the survey showed. The data showed that most of the cities whose populations declined are in central and southern Taiwan.
The survey put Kaohsiung’s population at 2.779 million last year, 885 less than the figure recorded in 2013.
When asked to speculate on the cause of the decline, an employee at Nanzih Export Processing Zone surnamed Liu (劉) said that many men left the municipality to pursue careers, whereas women left to start families elsewhere.
He added that recently constructed elegant public housing could not gloss over the sluggish job market, low starting salaries and scarcity of white-collar job opportunities, which are forcing residents out.
The survey showed that neighboring Greater Tainan’s population increased by 1,076 people over the past year, growth that a technology industry manager surnamed Hsueh (謝) attributed to the Southern Taiwan Science Park.
Hsueh said the park attracts jobseekers from Kaohsiung.
The Kaohsiung City Government’s Economic Development Bureau and the Labor Affairs Bureau have raised serious concerns over the municipality’s dwindling population.
They have promised to improve employment conditions and create more jobs, spearheaded by the Asia New Bay Area project — a major urban development expected to draw domestic and overseas investment.
Over the past two years, Kaohsiung’s NT$10,000 a month new citizens’ subsidy has drawn many new residents, city officials said.
According to statistics released by the Ministry of the Interior yesterday, the north has seen a net population inflow of 140,000 people over the past six years, while central, southern and eastern Taiwan have all experienced net outflows.
Taoyuan, New Taipei City and Taipei were among the areas that registered the greatest number of people moving in, while Changhua in central Taiwan and Pingtung in the south saw the biggest declines in population over that time.
However, the net flow of people northward slowed last year, when only 13,000 people moved north, compared with 15,000 in 2013 and 21,000 in 2012.
The data also revealed the continuing popularity of the nation’s sparsely populated outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu, which saw a combined net inflow of 6,381 people last year, compared with 41,145 in the period from 2009 until last year.
Financial and social welfare incentives offered by the Kinmen County Government to residents were key factors fueling migration to the island, the ministry said.
A total of 1.72 million people changed residence last year, 2.5 percent more than a year earlier, the ministry said.
About 72 percent of the nation’s total population resides in the country’s six major metropolitan areas — Taipei, New Taipei City, Kaohsiung, Taichung, Taoyuan and Tainan — according to the latest figures.
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