The unemployment rate last month accelerated to 4.8 percent, the highest in nearly 11 years, as many people lost their jobs due to business downsizing and closures, and the graduation season made things worse, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday.
A nationwide level 3 COVID-19 alert shrank the workforce by 97,000 people to 11.3 million, with 81,000 labeled as “jobless,” while some exited the market altogether, the agency said.
“The unemployment reading is the highest since the global financial crisis, which drove the critical economic gauge above the 6 percent mark,” DGBAS Deputy Director Chen Hui-hsin (陳惠欣) told an online news conference.
This time, the pain has mainly affected service-oriented sectors reliant on domestic demand, Chen said.
Export-focused manufacturers continued to benefit from strong demand for electronic devices used for remote work and study.
Still, the latest data meant that the number of unemployed people spiked 16.6 percent from one month earlier to 570,000, as business downsizing and closures put 72,000 people out of work and first-time jobseekers increased by 9,000, it said.
The tally did not count workers who were on unpaid leave and an additional 192,000 people who worked for fewer than 35 hours a week, which would have raised the total to nearly 1 million, a record high, Chen said.
Although COVID-19 infections have dropped to double-digit numbers since last month, the government has indicated it would not lift social distancing measures anytime soon.
The draconian approach has won support at home as countries that ended lockdown restrictions have seen a resurgence in confirmed cases.
Local governments have continued to ban dine-in services even after the Central Epidemic Command Center last week agreed to a conditional opening.
Against this backdrop, it is too early to speculate about a job market recovery this month, Chen said, adding that the graduation season is a negative factor until after the summer vacation.
The jobless rate after seasonal adjustments stood at 4.76 percent, also the highest since November 2010, the agency said.
University graduates had the highest unemployment rate at 6.23 percent, followed by high-school graduates at 4.76 percent and junior-high-school graduates at 4.09 percent, it said.
Younger people had the highest rate of unemployment at 13.41 percent for those aged 20 to 24, followed by 15-to-19-year-olds at 9.5 percent and 25-to-29-year-olds at 7.58 percent, it said.
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