Welcome break in 9-month run of job strains

Business | Stella Zhai 20 Aug 2020

Hong Kong's unemployment rate fell 0.1 percentage points from a 15-year-high to 6.1 percent in the May-July quarter, ending nine consecutive months of increases.

The period also included government support for employers with HK$43.2 billion in exchange of not laying off staff.

The under-employment rate also narrowed from 3.7 percent in the quarter, government data showed.

The jobless rate in the consumption- and tourism-related sectors, including retail and accommodation, edged up by 0.1 percentage points from the previous reading to 10.8 percent from May to July - the highest since the onslaught of SARS in 2003.

Among them, the unemployment rate for food and beverage service activities stayed near the post-SARS high at 14.6 percent.

The jobless rate in the construction sector also rose to 11.3 percent, which is the worst since the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis.

Total employment added around 16,600 jobs to the 3.64 million in the three months to the end of July, and the labor force grew 18,400 to 3.88 million.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong forecasts that the labor market will remain under significant pressure in the near term.

Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Christopher Hui Ching-yu said in his blog that the government has received nearly 400 applications for the anti-epidemic subsidies for fintech companies to offer jobs, and more than 100 of them have been approved.

The department is preparing for the second phase of the scheme, Hui also noted.

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