Low workforce growth due to COVID-19 and fertility rate: official

CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, Jan. 3 (CNA) The slow growth of Taiwan’s workforce in 2020 can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and the country’s low fertility rate, according to an official from the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS).

Data released by the DGBAS in late December shows that the number of people in Taiwan’s workforce, which is defined as individuals over the age of 15 who are employed or searching for work, averaged 11.964 million from January to November 2020.

This represented growth of 0.16 percent from the same period in 2019 and is the lowest growth level ever recorded for that time frame, Chen Hui-hsin (陳惠欣), deputy director of the DGBAS’ Department of Census, told CNA.

The growth in Taiwan’s workforce has slowed over the past few years due to the country’s low fertility rate and the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the problem further last year, Chen said.

According to Chen, whether or not an individual is looking for work determines whether they are included in the workforce. The number of people who said they wanted to work but were not looking for jobs grew last year, and is the main reason workforce growth slowed, she said.

It is possible that due to COVID-19, many businesses in Taiwan decided not to recruit more employees, and so those who were unemployed stopped job-searching even though they wanted to work, Chen said.

Another contributing factor could be the number of new graduates who have decided not to look for a job, said online job bank yes123 spokesperson Yang Tsung-pin (楊宗斌).

Sectors that young people are interested in, including the aviation, tourism and food and beverage industries, have been hardest hit by the pandemic, Yang said, so new graduates could be putting their job searches on pause because they cannot find an ideal job.

As the pandemic improves, growth in Taiwan’s workforce is likely to pick up again, Chen said.

In the long-term, however, Taiwan’s low fertility rate and aging population are likely to continue affecting the workforce, she said.

The number of people who cannot work because they have to take care of family members over 65 years old has grown from around 130,000 in 2018 to 150,000 in 2020, according to DGBAS data.

Although demographic changes in the population are not immediate, this data shows that the aging population in Taiwan is already impacting the number of people in the workforce, Chen said, and the government should come up with policies to address this issue.

Source: The Central News Agency (CNA)