Taipei, Jan. 22 (CNA) Taiwan's jobless rate for December fell 0.09 percentage points from a month earlier to 4.18 percent, reflecting a decline in the number of first-time jobseekers and mitigation of business downsizing and closures, government statistics showed Tuesday. The December unemployment rate was the lowest since May, when it stood at 4.12 percent, according to the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS). The seasonally adjusted jobless rate in December was 4.22 percent, down from 4.27 percent in November and the lowest since April when it was 4.19 percent, the DGBAS said. For 2012 as a whole, Taiwan's unemployment rate was 4.24 percent, down 0.15 percentage points from a year earlier and the closest it has been to 4 percent since 2008, when the country's jobless rate was 4.14 percent.
The DGBAS said the number of employed people in December hit a record high of 10.93 million, up 13,000 from November, while the number of jobless people was 477,000, down 10,000 from a month earlier. In December, the number of first-time jobseekers fell 4,000 from a month earlier, while the number of those who lost jobs due to business downsizing and closures dropped 2,000, the government agency said. Chen Min, deputy chief of the DGBAS's Department of Census, said the decrease in the number of people who had lost jobs as a result of business downsizing and closures indicated that the local job market had stabilized to some extent amid signs of an economic recovery. However, because the economy had not yet rebounded significantly, many in the local job market remained cautious about changing jobs, which dragged down job mobility, he said. As a result, the number of people seeking new jobs in December because of job dissatisfaction fell 4,000 from a month earlier, Chen said. In terms of age, the jobless rate in the 15-24 age group was 12.66 percent in December, in the 25-44 bracket 4.38 percent, and in the 45-64 group 2.31 percent. The unemployment rate among college and university graduates was 4.58 percent, and among those with higher degrees 5.37 percent. Among Taiwan's 22 counties and cities, Hsinchu County had the lowest jobless rate of 4 percent in December as Hsinchu Science Park is a major employment hub, the DGBAS data indicated. Nantou County recorded the highest jobless rate of 4.4 percent. In December, Taiwan's labor participation rate fell 0.03 percentage points from a month earlier to 58.45 percent, the government agency said. (By Lin Hui-chun and Frances Huang)