Salary for first-time jobseekers hits NT$31,000 in northern Taiwan

Taipei, May 31 (CNA) The average starting salary for first-time jobseekers in northern Taiwan was as high as NT$31,000 (US$1,033) a month, defying recent reports that many new graduates were offered only about NT$22,000, according to a survey released by the Ministry of Labor. It was not only employees in northern Taiwan who enjoyed a hike in starting salary, the labor force all over Taiwan also witnessed a rise in wages, the survey showed. The ministry said that the average starting wage for first-time jobseekers this year rose to more than NT$26,000 from the NT$25,175 recorded in 2013. Minister of Labor Pan Shih-wei said the higher starting wages for local employees came at a time when the domestic economic fundamentals have improved, with a falling jobless rate and rising demand for workers. Last week, the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) raised its forecast of Taiwan's economic growth for 2014 to 2.98 percent from an earlier estimate of 2.82 percent made in February, citing higher private consumption and investments. The DGBAS said due to a better local economy, many local enterprises have become more willing to raise wages for their employees at a time when the local job market has turned tight. In April, Taiwan's unemployment rate fell 0.12 percentage points from March to 3.91 percent, the lowest level since May 2008, when the jobless rate stood at 3.84 percent. It was the first time the local jobless rate has fallen below the 4 percent mark since June 2008, when the figure was 3.95 percent. Pan said with demand for labor in the local market on the rise, it is possible that the average starting salary for first-time jobseekers will continue to grow for the rest of this year. In March, the Ministry of Economic Affairs met representatives from 22 major local companies and asked them whether they planned to give raises to their employees. According to the MOEA, the 22 companies, including Formosa Plastics Corp., Nan Ya Plastics Corp., IC packaging and testing services provider Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc., and tire maker Kenda Rubber Industrial Co., have promised to raise wages by 3 to 5 percent, starting from the first half of this year. (By Zeo Wei and Frances Huang)