City's jobless rate remains unchanged at 3.4%

Updated: 2012-12-19 06:54

By Oswald Chen (HK Edition)

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 City's jobless rate remains unchanged at 3.4%

Construction workers work on a site. The employment in Hong Kong remained stable as the latest unemployment rate stood at 3.4 percent between September and November. Jerome Favre / Bloomberg

The employment market situation in Hong Kong remained stable while the latest unemployment rate stood at 3.4 percent between September and November 2012 due to the usually more buoyant business activities in the run-up to Christmas and the New Year period.

Economists predicted that local employment activities would remain relatively vibrant and keep the local unemployment rate at below 4 percent in 2013.

According to the latest labor force statistics released by the Census and Statistics Department on Tuesday, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 3.4 percent between September and November 2012, the same rate as in the August to October 2012 period. The underemployment rate decreased from 1.5 percent in the August to October 2012 period to 1.4 percent in the September to November 2012 period.

Comparing the September to November 2012 period with August to October 2012 period, the increases in the unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) were mainly observed in the financing and insurance, and import and export trade sectors, while decreases were mainly observed in the wholesale and retail sectors.

As to the underemployment rate, decreases were mainly seen in cleaning and other similar activities; and warehousing and support activities for the transportation sectors.

"Despite the subdued economic growth, the usually more buoyant business activities in the run-up to Christmas and New Year should boost labor demand, thereby keeping the unemployment situation stable for the time being, "Secretary for Labor and Welfare Matthew Cheung said in the Tuesday government statement.

However Cheung cautioned that the government should remain vigilant toward the local unemployment level in the long run.

"Uncertainties in the external environment, such as the evolving eurozone debt crisis and US fiscal cliff, would continue to affect our economic prospects. We will continue to stay alert and monitor development closely. The Labor Department will also maintain its efforts in providing comprehensive employment service to job-seekers," Cheung reckoned.

"The local employment situation in 2013 will remain stable as the buoyant construction and retail activities should create more jobs in the local economy. I predict local unemployment level in 2013 in Hong Kong will be below 4 percent," Chong Tai-leung, an economics professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told China Daily.

"Local economic activities are still resilient and can support employment activities though local economic growth was mild in 2012. Unless the global economy goes into deep recession, local employment condition in 2013 should remain stable," Chong added.

The government noted that there have been decreases in the unemployment rate for younger persons aged 15 to 24 and those with post-secondary sub-degree education. Since fresh graduates and school leavers were absorbed into employment at a favorable pace, the unemployment rate for youths aged 20 to 24 decreased visibly by 1.9 percentage points to 8.4 percent while the unemployment rate for those aged 15 to 19 fell slightly to 14.9 percent.

oswald@chinadailyhk.com

(HK Edition 12/19/2012 page2)