Hong Kong's unemployment rate fell further, while the number of people in the workforce reached a record high, thanks to greater demand for labor during the Lunar New Year.
The seasonally-adjusted jobless rate was 3.2 percent in the three months ending January, a slight improvement on 3.3 percent in the October-to-December period, the Census and Statistics Department said yesterday.
"As business activity tends to abate after the Lunar New Year holidays ... labor demand would likely weaken in the near term," said Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung.
"Moreover, Hong Kong's export outlook is bleak in the near term as the euro zone sovereign debt crisis continues to overshadow the global economy."
A total of 111,800 people were unemployed - the lowest since early 2008. That was reflected in the figure for the workforce soaring to 3.65 million, from 3.62 million previously.
Bank of East Asia (0023) economist Paul Tang Sai-on said the figures defied expectations, as layoffs had made a lot of headlines.
But Tang was cautious as exports are set to weaken. KAREN HA