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Hiring in Taiwan's service sector up almost 0.7% in 2023

02/20/2024 07:50 PM
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People queue up at the till in a 7-11 store. CNA file photo
People queue up at the till in a 7-11 store. CNA file photo

Taipei, Feb. 20 (CNA) The number of employees hired by the local services sector increased almost 0.7 percent in 2023 on the back of strong domestic spending in the post-COVID-19 era, according to the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS).

However, the figures for the exports-oriented manufacturing segment bucked the upturn, down more than 1 percent, due to global demand weakness, the DGBAS said.

Data released by the DGBAS on Monday showed the number of employees in the local industrial and service sectors totaled about 8.18 million, up 7,000 or 0.09 percent from a year earlier in 2023.

But the manufacturing segment and the service sector appeared mixed in terms of hiring as the local economy, the DGBAS said.

According to the DGBAS Census Department Deputy Director Chen Hui-hsin (陳惠欣), this was because of a decline in exports with solid domestic consumption amid rising business activities in the local market assuaging the impact resulting from the negative external factors.

In 2023, the number of employees in the service sector rose 33,000 or 0.69 percent from a year earlier to 4.78 million, while the hiring among manufacturers fell 31,000 or 1.06 percent from a year earlier to 2.84 million, the DGBAS's data indicated.

In particular, the lodging and food & beverage industry saw the number of employees rise 13,000 or 2.60 percent from a year earlier in 2023, the highest growth among the major industries in the services sector, according to the DGBAS.

The number of employees in the retail and wholesale industry, however, moved lower by 1,000 or 0.05 percent from a year earlier, the DGBAS said, citing wholesale operators' high correlation with manufacturers, which were affected by falling global demand.

In 2023, Taiwan's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 1.40 percent in 2023, the lowest level since 2009, when the country's economy contracted 1.61 percent in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Last year, exports in merchandise and services fell 4.34 percent from a year earlier, while private consumption soared 8.41 percent year-on-year.

The weaker economy along with high inflation also affected real earnings among employees in the industrial and service sectors in 2023, the DGBAS said.

After inflationary adjustments, real average monthly earnings, which include regular wages and nonregular wages such as part-time pay and bonuses, totaled NT$53,189 (US$1,689) in 2023, down 1.04 percent from a year earlier after the country saw its consumer price index rise 2.50 percent year-on-year, above the 2 percent alert set by Taiwan's central bank.

It was the first decline since 2016, when real average monthly earnings fell 0.88 percent from a year earlier, as the 2023 CPI growth hit the highest level in 15 years, the DGBAS's data indicated.

The DGBAS has forecast Taiwan's GDP will improve in 2024, rising 3.35 percent from a year earlier.

The positive sign for the manufacturing segment was that the number of overtime working hours increased to 14.7 hours a month in December, marking the sixth consecutive month of growth, Chen said.

But, Chen said the latest overtime working hour number was still below the 15-hour mark, which had been seen in the past stable economy, adding the growth in the six months could come from a relatively low comparison base over the same period of the previous year.

In December alone, the number of people employed by manufacturers fell 48,000 or 1.65 percent from a year earlier, according to the DGBAS.

(By Lo Yuan-chun and Frances Huang)

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