The unemployment rate last month gained 0.06 percentage points to 3.68 percent, the highest in seven months, as people lost jobs to business downsizing or closures induced by a COVID-19 outbreak, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics said yesterday.
The statistics agency expects the job market to deteriorate further this month with the arrival of the graduation season and as the outbreak has yet to stabilize.
“The outbreak is to blame for the increase in the jobless rate as sectors reliant on domestic demand are again taking a hit,” DGBAS Deputy Director Chen Hui-hsin (陳惠欣) said, adding that historically, the jobless reading in May is normally lower than in April.
The unemployment rate after seasonal adjustments picked up 0.005 percentage points to 3.73 percent, affirming the uptrend, DGBAS data showed.
The overall jobless population stood at 434,000, an increase of 5,000 after 8,000 people lost jobs to business downsizing and closures, while the number of first-time jobseekers dropped by 2,000, the agency’s monthly report showed.
The negative impact of the outbreak is most evident in the rising number of workers furloughed, Chen said, as hundreds of companies reinstall unpaid leave to cope with a business slowdown.
Last month. the number of people working for fewer than 35 hours a week surged by 62,000 to 296,000, the highest since August last year, when the government lifted a level 3 COVID-19 alert in phases, it said.
Hotels, restaurants and retailers are bearing the brunt, as people voluntarily stay home to avoid infection, Chen said.
The situation is unlikely to improve this month and beyond with the outbreak lingering and an anticipated increase in first-time jobseekers, Chen said.
At the same time, people needed a longer time to land positions, extending the average unemployment period by 0.4 weeks to 20.8 weeks, it said, adding that the job hunting process averaged 24 weeks for first-time jobseekers.
A breakdown by education showed that university graduates had the highest jobless rate at 5.19 percent, followed by high-school graduates at 3.39 percent and people with graduate degrees at 2.75 percent, the agency said.
By age, people aged 20 to 24 had the highest unemployment rate at 12.16 percent, followed by the 15-to-19 age bracket at 8.14 percent, the 25-to-29 age group at 6.07 percent and the 30-to-34 age group at 3.78 percent, it said.
Taiwan’s unemployment rate of 3.68 percent is lower than Hong Kong’s 5.15 percent, but higher than South Korea’s 3 percent and Japan’s 2.7 percent, government data showed.
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