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Economy in Brief

Taiwan Employment Grows, Even in Factories; Unemployment Lowest in 5-1/2 Years
by Carol Stone September 22, 2006

Employment in Taiwan is trending steadily higher, even and especially in the manufacturing sector. August data published on September 22 by the Directorate-General for Budgets, Analysis and Statistics (DGBAS) shows a 21,000 increase in total employment in the month, a 2.0% advance over a year ago and following a 42,000 increase in July. Unemployment in Taiwan is declining, and the August rate, 3.8%, is the lowest since February 2001; it peaked at 5.3% in early 2002.

The most distinctive aspect to Taiwan's labor situation is the uptrend in manufacturing. The number of factory workers has increased by 61,000 over the last year, a gain of 2.2%. After the tech recession in 2001, Taiwan's manufacturing rebounded promptly and has shown fairly consistent growth since. Its neighbors haven't fared nearly as well. Until the last few months, South Korea has continued to see job reductions in that sector and Hong Kong's manufacturing jobs are just managing to hold steady at their cycle low.

Clearly too, Taiwan's manufacturing employment is stronger than in the West. In Taiwan, this key goods-producing sector accounts for just over 27% of all employment. This contrasts with 18.4% recently in the EuroZone (includes mining), about 12% in the US and 11% in the UK. In Europe, too, factory jobs are falling markedly; in the UK, they are also falling, although the rate of decline is easing. In the US, total factory employment has finally stabilized and the number of production workers is actually rising a bit. But by far, Taiwan's sector is out-performing many other of the world's markets.

Taiwan: SA*, 000s Aug 2006 July 2006 June 2006 Year Ago 2005 2004 2003
Total Employment 10,141 10,120 10,078 9,951 9,942 9,786 9,573
Change/ % Chg 21 42 7 2.0% 1.6% 2.2% 1.3%
Manufacturing 2,783 2,777 2,765 2,722 2,726 2,672 2,590
Change/ % Chg 6 12 9 2.2% 2.0% 3.2% 1.0%
Unemployment Rate, % 3.8% 3.9% 3.9% 4.1% 4.1% 4.4% 5.0%
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