The unemployment rate in May climbed to 4.11 percent, gaining 0.47 percentage points from one month earlier to the highest level in seven-and-a-half years, as a local COVID-19 outbreak put many people out of work, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday.
The data suggest an unemployed population of 489,000, a 12.35 percent spike from April, as the government ordered a temporary shutdown of all recreational and cultural facilities, and banned dine-in services at restaurants.
Businesses that are allowed to operate have seen their revenue dwindle as people stay home to avoid infection.
“The ongoing virus outbreak hit the job market harder this time than last year in light of more infections and the level 3 alert, which induced a sudden freeze in consumer activity,” DGBAS Deputy Director Chen Hui-hsin (陳惠欣) told an online news conference in Taipei.
The statistics agency postponed the release of May unemployment data from June 25 to yesterday to better reflect reality, Chen said.
The latest survey was conducted from May 23 to Tuesday last week, one week later than usual, she said.
Chen said she expects last month’s unemployment rate to be worse due to lingering restrictions on movement and gatherings, and the arrival of the graduation season.
The nation’s workforce in May shrank 1.09 percent to 11.39 million following 126,000 job losses, the worst figure for the month, Chen said.
Most job losses were among service providers at 86,000, compared with 40,000 in the manufacturing sector, she said.
The pinch was acutely felt by restaurants, retailers, wholesalers and non-school educational facilities, the official said, adding that the real situation could be worse, as the data do not factor in people involved in the underground economy, such as food vendors at night markets and self-employed YouTubers.
However, people who exited the market would not be listed as unemployed, which accounts for a gap between job losses and an increase of 54,000 in the number of unemployed people, she said.
By education breakdown, people with university degrees had the highest unemployment rate of 5.56 percent, followed by high-school graduates at 4 percent and people with junior-high education at 3.23 percent. People with graduate degrees had an unemployment rate of 3.15 percent and people with junior-high college education had an unemployment rate of 2.93 percent, it added.
People aged 20 to 24 had the highest unemployment rate at 12.58 percent, followed by 15-to-19-year-olds at 8.58 percent and 25-to-29-year-olds at 6.9 percent, it said.
People aged 40 to 44 had an unemployment rate of 2.98 percent and people aged 45 to 64 had an unemployment rate of 2.74 percent, the DGBAS said.
The nation’s unemployment rate is higher than Japan’s 3.1 percent and South Korea’s 4 percent, but better than Hong Kong’s 6 percent, it said.
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