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Taiwan's Economy Hurt By High Unemployment, Terror Attacks - 2001-10-23

Unemployment in Taiwan has reached a record high. Experts say the U.S. economic slowdown and recent terror attacks have hit hard Taiwan's export-dependent economy.

Taiwan's government says the jobless rate on the island for the month of September reached a record high of 5.26 percent. This is the fifth consecutive month of disappointing figures, with more than 500,000 workers seeking, but not finding work.

Taiwan is one of the world's leading manufacturers of high tech electronic and computer products. But in recent years, rising costs have prompted some Taiwanese companies to move manufacturing to China and Southeast Asia.

The economic slowdown in the United States and recent terrorist attacks have further hurt Taiwan's export-heavy economy.

Chen Jin-cherng, Taiwan's deputy budget director, notes that the jobless rate for Hsinchu county - where Taiwan's foremost science industrial park is located - is higher than the national average. He adds that not only were high tech sector jobs being lost, even service-sector jobs were disappearing.

Officials say unemployment will likely hit 4.5 percent for this year, topping last year's record three percent. The employment outlook for next year remains gloomy, as Taiwan braces for entry into the World Trade Organization.