Hong Kong’s unemployment rate rises to 3.0%, underemployment edges up to 1.1%

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18th April 2024 – (Hong Kong) Hong Kong has experienced a modest rise in both unemployment and underemployment rates, according to provisional data from the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) for January to March 2024. The unemployment rate nudged up from 2.9% in the December 2023 to February 2024 period to 3.0% in the following quarter. Concurrently, the underemployment rate increased slightly from 1.0% to 1.1%.

The detailed sector analysis reveals that the unemployment rates have risen across several key sectors, notably in the foundation and superstructure sector, retail, accommodation and food services, and professional and business services (excluding cleaning and similar activities). The retail sector, in particular, saw a noticeable uptick in underemployment.

The labour force statistics also indicated a decrease in total employment, down by approximately 6,300 jobs, settling at 3,688,400 from a previous count of 3,694,700. Despite this decline in employment, the labour force saw a marginal increase, with around 3,100 more individuals, totalling 3,800,100.

The count of unemployed individuals, not seasonally adjusted, increased by around 9,400, reaching 111,700. Similarly, the number of underemployed persons rose by about 2,400, culminating in a total of 40,000.

Mr Chris Sun, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, commented on the figures, noting that despite a slight increase, the unemployment rate remains low at 3.0%. He highlighted the resilience of the labour market, with a low but rising underemployment rate of 1.1%. “The labour force has slightly recovered, though total employment has seen a reduction. Overall, the numbers indicate a still robust labour market condition,” said Mr Sun.

Despite the setbacks in employment figures, most sectors continue to maintain low unemployment rates, hinting at an underlying stability. Mr Sun remains optimistic about the near future, suggesting that the labour market is likely to stay tight as the economy grows.

During the same period, the Labour Department recorded a monthly average of 77,488 job vacancies in the private sector, marking a year-on-year decrease of 24.1% but a slight improvement over the December 2023 to February 2024 period. For job seekers, the Labour Department’s Interactive Employment Service website remains a crucial resource for up-to-date vacancy information.