The Taiwan Labor Front yesterday urged the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) to quickly release the unemployment rate for May and explain its reason for delaying the report.
The agency conducts a human resources survey every month and is obligated to report the unemployment rate for the previous month on the 25th of each month, the labor group said.
However, the agency has yet to disclose the unemployment rate for May, which should have been announced on June 25th.
“Although the government has rolled out a series of relief programs for workers since the Central Epidemic Command Center raised a nationwide COVID-19 alert to level 3 in May, the labor market remains deeply affected by the [COVID-19] pandemic. To help the public, as well as government officials, understand the ‘status quo’ of the job market, the DGBAS should adhere to the Statistics Act (統計法) by announcing the unemployment rate for May as quickly as possible,” the group said.
The monthly survey, which was conducted using a stratified two-stage random sampling method, interviewed close to 60,000 people aged 15 or older, with a sampling fraction of 0.24 percent, it said, adding that the sampling fraction is higher than those in South Korea (0.23 percent), Japan (0.09 percent) and the US (0.05 percent).
The agency also mobilized nearly 700 local government workers to conduct telephone interviews for the survey, the group said.
The survey results are carefully monitored by government officials and labor groups, as well as experts in academia, and serve as the legal basis for the government to implement measures to stabilize the job market, it said.
Article 16 of the act states that government agencies should announce their statistics publication schedule in advance, which cannot be changed except for critical incidents, the group said.
Article 27 of the Enforcement Rules of the Statistics Act (統計法施行細則) states that the government must not postpone or cancel the announcement of national statistical data that had been scheduled for release unless in the event of a natural disaster or other force majeure, nor should it release the data ahead of schedule, it added.
“The DGBAS should tell the public if it failed to release the unemployment rate for May on time because government workers could not conduct the survey amid the nationwide level 3 COVID-19 alert,” the group added.
Due to the pandemic, the nation’s unemployment rate last year rose from 3.72 percent in March to 4.03 percent in April and 4.07 percent in May, it said.
It gradually fell below 4 percent as the government kept the disease at bay and the Legislative Yuan passed a relief programs for businesses affected by the pandemic.
The unemployment rate was 3.64 percent in April, DGBAS data showed.
Even if the unemployment rate rose again in May due to the pandemic, the announcement of such data should not cause panic, given that the government has allocated funding for the Employment Insurance Fund and the Employment Stability Fund, the group said.
DGBAS Department of Census Deputy Director Chen Hui-hsin (陳惠欣) said the agency would announce the May unemployment rate today.
Government employees working from home was not the reason for the delay, Chen said.
“We want the survey results to more accurately reflect the job market amid the pandemic. As such, we have postponed our survey period from May 16 to May 23 to May 30 to June 5,” she said, adding that the agency had postponed the announcement of the unemployment rate in the past because of the Lunar New Year holiday or due to the collection of census data.
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