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July's unemployment rate up slightly at 4.02%

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- As graduates flooded into the job market, the unemployment rate in July climbed 0.1 percentage points from last month to reach 4.02 percent, according to a report released by the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS, 主計處) yesterday.

Nevertheless, the job market is improving. The unemployment rate in July dipped 0.23 percentage points compared to last year. The rate was also the lowest compared to the same month over the past 14 years.

Every year about 310,000 students graduate from schools, and about 40 percent of them will join the job market. As a result, the unemployment rate typically begins to climb in May and reaches its peak in August before it comes down again in September.

According to the DGBAS's report, first-time job seekers took on average 21.2 weeks to find a job, which was also the lowest time frame in six years. It is a sign that there are more job openings and the economy is on track for recovery, said DGBAS Deputy Director Lo Yi-ling (羅怡玲).

Compared with last year, a better economy has created more jobs in both the public and private sectors, said DGBAS officials. The unemployment rate between January and July averaged 3.98 percent, which was also the lowest in six years.

Local Real Earnings below the 1998 Level

Local workers' monthly earnings averaged NT$50,343 in the first six months of the year, which represents a 4.11-percent growth, compared to the same period last year. The real earnings, however, dropped to NT$48,622 and fell below the earnings level in 1998, after taking a 1.21-percent inflation over the same period into consideration.

Regular earnings in June were pegged at NT$38,197, which was a 0.24-percent increase month-on-month and a 1.8-percent increase year-on-year.

June's average earnings (regular and irregular earnings) were pegged at NT$42,560, which was a 4.32-percent decrease month-on-month and a 0.14-percent dip year-on-year, however.

Although the economy has improved, it is not felt by everyone in Taiwan, as many companies have not given enough raises, said analysts.

Taiwan's stagnant wage level appears to have caught the government's attention. The newly inaugurated Labor Minister Chen Hsiung-wen (陳雄文) said in a press interview yesterday that the government is considering levying more taxes on firms that made a profit but failed to give raises to employees.

Giving raises will make employees feel better and in turn enhance their work efficiency, Chen pointed out. If companies choose not to give them, then “we will have to consider an alternative and change the system, exacting taxes and sharing the profits with the public,” Chen said.

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