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Unemployment number sees slight decrease in September

TAIPEI -- Taiwan's unemployment rate in September fell by 0.08 percentage points from a month earlier to 4.32 percent after hitting a 2012 high in August, according to government statistics released yesterday.

However, the seasonally adjusted rate in September was 4.3 percent, 0.01 percentage points higher than in August and the highest it has been since November 2011, according to the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS).

The number of jobless people reached 491,000 in September, a decrease of 11,000 from the August level, primarily because more first-time job seekers have landed jobs, said Chen Min, a deputy director of the DGBAS' Department of Census.

Based on previous experience, Chen suggested that if Taiwan does not suffer from large-scale layoffs, the unemployment rate should improve in the coming months once first-time job seekers are absorbed into the job market.

“The unemployment situation has been relieved in the short run, but the decrease is not as huge as in previous years,” Chen said.

September unemployment rates in both 2010 and 2011 were at least 0.1 percentage points lower than August rates, she noted, adding that employers are tending to be “more conservative” at the moment due to the current global economic down cycle.

The average jobless rate in the January September period fell by 0.2 percentage points to 4.23 percent from the same period of last year, the statistics showed.

According to the DGBAS, Taiwan's unemployment rate remained higher than the latest September jobless rates in Hong Kong (3.3 percent), South Korea (3.1 percent) and Singapore (2 percent).

The figure was about even with Japan's (4.2 percent) and much lower than the jobless rates seen in certain developed economies, such as the United Kingdom (7.9 percent), the United Stated (7.8 percent) and Canada (7.4 percent).

Meanwhile, the regular monthly salary in August averaged NT$37,222 (US$1,272.2), up 0.56 percent from a year ago, while the total monthly salary, including bonuses and overtime pay, averaged NT$41,838, down 1.24 percent year-on-year, according to the figures.

The average salary in the January-August period, inflated by annual year-end bonuses, was NT$47,247, down 0.35 percent from the same period of last year.

Chen attributed the negative growth to trimmed year-end and performance bonuses due to the sluggishness of the economy over the second half of 2011.

Taking the inflation rate of 1.84 percent over the same period into calculation, salaries dropped by 2.15 percent, she said.

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