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Taiwan's jobless rate in August may hit 4.4 %: experts

Publication Date : 24-09-2012


Taiwan's August unemployment rate, which will be released by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) today, may reach 4.4 per cent, experts predicted yesterday.

Unemployment may ease slightly after September yet may stay at between 4.3 and 4.4 per cent for the rest of the year, experts said, adding that lowering the jobless rate to below 4 per cent may not be achievable anytime soon.

July's unemployment rate was 4.31 per cent and 4.25 per cent after seasonal adjustment.

Fu Ming-tsai, chief economist with Standard Chartered Bank, attributed the possible jobless rate increase to more college graduates entering the workforce in August. While the overall employment rate may increase, a rise in people getting hired did not catch up with a rise in people seeking jobs, resulting in a possible increase in August unemployment to 4.4 per cent, or 4.35 per cent after seasonal adjustment, he said.

Luo Wei, senior researcher with Fubon Financial Holding, said that an economic slowdown has caused enterprises to be more conservative in hiring. Yet he said in Taiwan, continuing education and civil service exams are some of the courses taken by jobless young people, who help dilute the overall unemployment figure.

“Even if unemployment rises in Taiwan, it wouldn't go up by a big margin,” he said.

He also discussed the concept of “hidden unemployment,” a common phenomenon in the oriental society where jobless people either hide away in their homes or work at home businesses. Yet he said Taiwan has become a mature and near-developed society where unemployed people have fewer places to hide. “As a result, an increase in unemployment would be 'normal' in Taiwan,” he said.

The experts' prediction is in contrast with President Ma Ying-jeou's famous “633” promise that he made when he ran for his first term: achieving economic growth of 6 per cent, unemployment of below 3 per cent, and per-capita income of US$30,000.

During his re-election campaign, he was criticised for not fulfilling those promises. To such criticism Ma responded by saying the goals were set for 2016, the end of his second term.

Yesterday, Fu said that a 4-per cent unemployment rate would be a “neutral” figure facing Taiwan in the mid- to long-term.

“Lowering the figure to below 3 per cent would require the creation of 250,000 jobs for two years in a row,” he said. “Judging from the fact that about 180,000 to 200,000 jobs are created each year, cutting the jobless rate to 3 per cent would be hard to achieve during Ma's second term.”


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