Average real income over the first six months of the year has fallen to a level equal to that posted in 1996, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said on Monday.
Real monthly earnings (including regular and irregular income) averaged NT$42,909 in the first six months of the year as companies adjusted their hiring patterns to cope with the global economic slump, the agency’s figures showed.
That figure is 6.84 percent lower than for the same period a year ago.
The decline in real monthly earnings was the largest such fall since the government began compiling employment-related statistics in 1978.
The January-June average was about the same as the NT$42,744 recorded for the first six months of 1996, the tallies showed.
Officials said that although the number of people employed has risen every month from April to last month, average wages or salaries had continued to decline.
They attributed the decline to the global economic slump and the rise in unconventional employment modes, such as temporary or part-time jobs with hourly based wages.
Cheng Chih-yu (成之約), a professor in National Chengchi University’s Graduate Institute of Labor Research, said that employers, battered by the global economic crunch, have resorted to using temporary or “dispatched” workers to lower costs.
Cheng said, however, that negative growth in the average wage rate would not last forever.
“The negative growth nightmare will be gone as soon as the domestic economy bottoms out from its quagmire and unemployment drops,” Cheng said.
The DGBAS tallies released on Monday show the unemployment rate rose to a record high of 6.07 percent last month and could rise again this month as new entrants to the job market struggle to find work.
The government said the jobless rate would reach its peak last month or this month before gradually easing next month, but Cheng said that the devastation wrought by Typhoon Morakot might exacerbate unemployment.
DGBAS officials estimated that the floods and mudslides triggered by the typhoon affected only 60,000 people and would have little impact on the jobless rate, but Cheng said that the tourism, agriculture and aquaculture sectors would take at least a year to recover from the storm and also suffer job losses.
Cabinet officials said on Monday that the improving global economy and huge amounts of funds and resources that will be channeled into disaster areas for reconstruction projects would help offset some of the typhoon’s negative impact.
“If the post-disaster reconstruction projects are carried out efficiently, it will help solve the jobless problem in disaster areas and boost demand in the building and construction market as well,” an official said.
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