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Controversy over employment statistics heats up

The China Post news staff--The Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) will continue working with employers to create more employment vacancies, although the council's data of April came under serious doubts and criticism amid gloomy economic prospects.

There were 157,048 jobs available in April, twice the figure of 78,000 job seekers in Taiwan, according to data released by the CLA.

But the statistics came under questioning by people who claimed that officials at the Cabinet-level government agency could have tampered with the figures, as business conditions in Taiwan are now under even greater threats of the lingering debt crisis in Europe.

The critics also pointed out negative developments in two of major export markets for Taiwan — the shaky economic recovery in the United States and the downward adjustment of economic growth in mainland China.

According to CLA data, there were 86,280 job openings available in January, meaning 1.4 job opportunities for every job seeker.

The figure of job vacancies shot up to 123,000 in February and then to 145,000 in March. In April, job vacancies numbered 157,048, which meant each job seeker had an average of two employment opportunities.

The critics said the figures released by the CLA were highly unusual. They claimed that the actual figures were closer to 1-1.2 job offerings per employment seeker in Taiwan.

The critics also pointed that the employment figures (released by the CLA) are at odds with current domestic and global economic conditions.

The officials, on the other hand, insisted that the job data had not been tampered with.

They agreed that the ratio was comparatively higher in April and one of the main reasons could be a slower speed in the filling up of vacancies.

Officials said they will continue to monitor the situation and to work with employers in an effort to increase job opportunities.

The Bureau of Employment and Vocational Training and employment service centers under the CLA normally work as matchmakers to help 950,000 job seekers fill in employment vacancies each year.

But the CLA has set a higher and tougher target of helping one million involuntarily unemployed people find jobs in 2012 in order to further lower the unemployment rate, which reached 4.1 percent in April.

The unemployment rate, which averaged between 4.1 percent and 4.2 percent each month so far in 2012, is projected to surge starting from May, as a massive number of graduates will leave schools to join the job market in the summer.

In order to decrease the unemployment rate and attain the goal of helping one million people secure jobs, the CLA staff said they have to work harder with other government agencies and employers in the private sector this year.

Some top CLA officials revealed earlier more ambitious goals of bringing the unemployment rate down to 3 percent.

But most CLA officials said that they now think such a target will be out of reach, taking into account the slowing down (and weakening) of economies in mainland China, the U.S. and Europe.

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