Gov’t policies blamed for rising jobless in traditional industries

The China Post staff

Government policies to promote the high-tech and capital-oriented industries are one of the major reasons for mounting unemployment on the island, said Hsin Ping-jung, a researcher at the Chunghwa Institution of Economic Research. Over concern about the rising jobless rate, Academia Sinica held a seminar yesterday to discuss the current unemployment situation. Hsin pointed out at the seminar that the cause of the current unemployment is the result of the country’s changing focus, but failing to raise technology levels or to add additional value to products of the original industries.

In recent years, government policies have focused on the promotion of high-tech and capital-oriented industries. However, the high economic growth that comes with high-tech and capital-oriented industries doesn’t create as many job opportunities as traditional industries, said Hsin. With the successful example of Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park, high-tech companies are moving more into specific areas, but the centralization of these companies will cause a further hike in the price of real estate adding to the difficulties of workers moving to those areas, added Hsin. In 1999, the jobless rate in Taoyuan and Hsinchu counties, where the high-tech companies gather, was only 1.8 percent and 1.98 percent respectively, while in Tainan and Kaohsiung counties the level reached 3.42 percent and 3.72 percent respectively. Hsin commented that the jobless situation in different counties is “unbalanced.” Hsin said that although the weak economy definitely plays a role in increasing the number of people out of work, the government’s policies have a more significant influence.

January’s jobless rate rose to 3.5 percent, with the number of people out of work rising to 329,000, a record high since the government began compiling figures in 1978. Among them, 117,000 people lost their jobs because of factory closures or layoffs, the government said.