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Jobless rate in Taiwan falls to 4.16% in January (update)

2013/02/26 15:29:02

Taipei, Feb. 26 (CNA) Taiwan's unemployment rate in January fell to 4.16 percent, down 0.02 percentage points from December, partly reflecting a reduced number of first-time job seekers, the government said Tuesday.

The jobless rate, which was down for the third consecutive month, fell to its lowest level since May 2012 when it stood at 4.12 percent, the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said.

The seasonally adjusted jobless rate for the month was 4.20 percent, down slightly from the 4.21 percent figure in December and the 2012 peak of 4.28 percent reached in October, DGBAS figures showed.

Aside from fewer new entrants to the labor market, the lower unemployment rate also reflected a decline in the number of people who lost jobs due to the termination of temporary job contracts, the DGBAS said.

Taiwan's jobless rate was 4.24 percent for 2012 as a whole. The government is hoping to get that number to below 4 percent this year.

In January, the number of jobless people fell 2,000 from a month earlier to 475,000, while the number of employed rose 4,000 month-on-month to about 10.94 million, the DGBAS said.

For the month, the number of first-time job seekers was down 3,000 from December, while the number of those who lost their temporary jobs fell by 1,000 month-on-month, it said.

Chen Min, deputy director of the DGBAS's Department of Census, said that although the local job market was improving, the pace of improvement was not significant enough.

With the domestic economy continuing to recover, however, Taiwan's unemployment rate is expected to fall at a quicker pace in the coming months as demand for workers increases, he said.

Last week, the DGBAS raised its forecast for Taiwan's economic growth to 3.59 percent from an earlier estimate of 3.53, citing an upswing in exports and an increase in private consumption as the main reasons for the revision.

Despite the decline in the overall jobless rate in January, the unemployment rates for people with a university degree or higher and for those in the 15-24 age bracket remained stubbornly high, at 5.13 percent and 12.54 percent respectively, the DGBAS said.

Chen was optimistic unemployment in those particular categories would fall in the coming months as the domestic economy gains momentum.

In 2012, the average salary, which is comprised of fixed salary and non-salary income such as bonuses and overtime pay, rose 0.3 percent from a year earlier to NT$45,888 (US$1,545), the DGBAS said.

But real average salary, which factors in inflation, fell 1.6 percent in 2012, the third largest decline after a drop of 3.39 percent in 2008 and a decline of 4 percent in 2009.

Meanwhile, the average salary for female employees stood at NT$40,709, about 81 percent of the NT$50,275 in salary averaged by male workers per month.

The ratio was higher than the 80.14 percent recorded in 2011, indicating a narrowing wage gap between men and women in Taiwan, the DGBAS said.

(By Lin Hui-chun and Frances Huang)