Weakness in the nation’s export-oriented manufacturing sector led to a rise in furloughed workers in the past week, as global demand for manufactured goods continued to fall, the Ministry of the Labor said on Thursday.
The number of furloughed workers as of Wednesday totaled 17,674, up 1,162 from 16,512 on Tuesday last week, data compiled by the ministry showed.
From Tuesday last week to Wednesday, the number of companies implementing unpaid leave programs also rose by 81 to 2,339, the data showed.
The number of workers placed on unpaid leave in the manufacturing sector rose by 970, accounting for the bulk of the increase, the ministry said.
The sector was affected by falling orders from overseas, Department of Labor Standards and Equal Employment Director Huang Wei-chen (黃維琛) said.
During the week, a machine tool parts maker, a motorbike parts supplier, a wire and cable provider, and an electronics component producer together placed more than 100 workers on furlough programs, Huang said.
The number of manufacturers that carried out unpaid leave programs rose to 317 from 288 during the week, the ministry said.
Huang said the silver lining was that employment in the non-manufacturing sector appeared relatively resilient as domestic demand remained stable.
The number of furloughed workers in the retail and wholesale industry rose to 1,290 on Wednesday from 1,222 on Tuesday last week, due in part to declining orders from manufacturers, the ministry said.
Meanwhile, the number of workers placed on unpaid leave programs in the transportation and logistics industry stood at 651 as of Wednesday, slightly up from 648 a week earlier, while the number in the support service industry, mainly travel agencies, rose slightly to 6,756 from 6,738, it said.
As for the lodging and food/beverage industry, the number of furloughed workers rose to 640, slightly up from 592 a week earlier, it said.
The support service and lodging and food/beverage industries still need some time to see employment recover to pre-COVID-19 levels, despite an easing of border controls in the country, Huang said.
Most of the enterprises implementing furlough programs are small firms that employ fewer than 50 people.
Unpaid leave programs typically last for less than three months, with employees taking five to eight days of unpaid leave per month, the ministry said.
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