Mixed picture for unemployment in February (update)

Taipei--Taiwan's jobless rate in February edged slightly higher in February on a nominal basis but was relatively flat after being adjusted for seasonal factors, the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) reported on Wednesday.

The nominal unemployment rate was up 0.07 percentage points from January at 3.85 percent, but the seasonally adjusted jobless rate fell 0.01 percentage points from a month earlier to 3.83 percent, DGBAS figures show.

Both rates were down 0.1 percentage points from a year earlier.

Some 453,000 people were unemployed in February, up 8,000 from January, which the DGBAS said was mainly caused by job shifts and the termination of temporary jobs after the conclusion of the Lunar New Year holiday in early February.

The average unemployment rate in the first two months of the year stood at 3.82 percent, down 0.09 percentage points from the year earlier, the DGBAS said.

Commenting on the latest figures, DGBAS official Pan Ning-hsin (???) said that the employment market trends were affected by factors caused by the Lunar New Year period.

Taking out the seasonal factor, Pan said, the job market in Taiwan remained stable over the past two months.

Noting the implementation of new work rules, Pan predicted that it will help create greater job opportunities, because companies will need more staff to keep operations running normally. But he added that it will take more time to see the actual influence of the new work rules.

The new rules went into force last December after amendments to the Labor Standards Act were passed. Under the new work rules, the total maximum number of working hours has been reduced to 40 hours per week from 84 hours every two weeks and workers are now entitled to one mandatory day off and one "flexible" rest day per week -- measures that could increase operating costs for employers.

Employers now have to pay higher overtime if they ask employees to work on their "flexible" days off and must provide a matching day off, as well as overtime to employees who are required to work on their mandatory day off.

Meanwhile, the new law requires employees to take one day off after working six days in a row, which has stripped them of their chance to work overtime on the seventh day, creating a more rigid working environment.

In February, the jobless rate in the 15-24 age bracket stood at 12.18 percent in February, the highest among the age groups, while in the 25-29 age group the figure was 6.71 percent, and 4.01 percent in the 25-44 age bracket and 2.07 percent in the 45-64 age bracket, the DGBAS said.

In terms of educational background, the unemployment rate was the highest in February -- at 4.14 percent -- among people with college degrees or higher, the DGBAS said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel