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Hong Kong’s unemployment rate drops in 9 months trend

Hong Kong’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate edged lower from 3.5%  in the period from October to December 2022 to 3.4%  between December 2022 and January 2023, recording the ninth consecutive improvement from last year.  

The underemployment rate dropped 0.1 percentage points to 1.4% from November 2022 to January, with the number of the underemployed persons decreasing by 3,200 to 52,100, while the number of unemployed decreased by 7,600 to 118,400.

The unemployment rate of the retail sector and the food and beverage sectors declined by 0.4 and 0.1 percentage points to 4.2% and 4.9% respectively. The unemployment rates of other sectors line lined in general.

Hong Kong's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has kept a steady downward trend since  May 2022 as the city recovers from the epidemic alongside border reopening between Hong Kong and China, said Chris Sun Yuk-han, the Secretary for Labor and Welfare. 

“The unemployment and underemployment situation continued to improve,” said Sun.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment and underemployment rate started to decrease since May 2022, released by the C&SD.

Amid the fifth wave of COVID-19 pandemic in early 2022, retail, accommodation and food service was the most affected industry, with its unemployment rate hitting 10% in the period of February to April 2022, according to the Census and Statistics Department.

Vera Yuen Wing-han, an economics lecturer at the University of Hong Kong, said that Hong Kong's service industry had to shut down extensively before border opening as the consumption level was low.

Moreover, Hong Kong's local labour market has been troubled for a long time by the shortage of labour, especially in the service industry, Yuen added.

“The recruitment advertisements hang all the time but few people apply for the vacancies,” Roy Chan, the human resource manager of 616 Catering Management Limited said. 

The staff shortage in the catering industry is a common phenomenon especially for the full-time staff. “We prefer the full-time staff rather than part-time ones so that the quality of service can be better guaranteed,” Chan said. 

The border opening enables Hong Kong’s full-time staff living in the mainland with a low cost of accommodation. “Hong Kong's service industry will remain highly dependent on low-cost labour for a long period,” said Yuen.

A billboard in Sham Shui Po shows services such as career guidance and skills training for young people

“Hong Kong’s unemployment rate will keep the downward trend in the following half year,” said Yuen. 

Yuen said that Hong Kong should focus more on industrial development to enhance its competitiveness rather than attracting talents through various preferential policies.

The city's financial secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said in his blog last Sunday that the retail and catering sector have improved amid the consumption recovery. 

He will deliver the 2023/24 Budget on Feb. 22, expecting it would provide stable pavement for Hong Kong’s recovery.  

"It is worth exploring how to help our catering sector to achieve breakthrough while it recovers and gains more business," said Chan.

《The Young Reporter》

The Young Reporter (TYR) started as a newspaper in 1969. Today, it is published across multiple media platforms and updated constantly to bring the latest news and analyses to its readers.


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