Optimism grows as jobless rate dips to one-year low

Finance | Eurus Yiu 18 Jun 2021

Hong Kong's unemployment rate fell to a one-year low of 6 percent in May, a sign that the city is exiting from recession.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate between February and April fell by 0.4 percentage points to 6 percent for the period between March and May, the lowest level since the rate stood at 5.9 percent in the period between March and May last year, according to the Census and Statistics Department.

The indicator proved better than the consensus forecast of 6.2 percent in a Bloomberg survey of economists.

Total employment rose by 8,400 over the preceding three-month period to 3.63 million, and the number of unemployed persons went down by 14,200 to 233,300.

The underemployment rate also decreased by 0.5 percentage points to 2.8 percent in the period between March and May.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong said: "As the economy continues to recover, the pressure on the labor market should gradually ease, especially if the local epidemic remains well contained. Yet, the evolving global pandemic situation remains a key source of uncertainty. As the pace of economic recovery is uneven across sectors, the unemployment rates in some sectors may take a longer time to return to the pre-pandemic levels."

He continued: "To create favorable conditions for a full-fledged revival in the economy and hence a broad-based recovery in the labor market, it is essential for the community as a whole to work together to keep the epidemic under control and actively participate in the Covid-19 vaccination programme."

Analysed by sector, the unemployment rates of most economic sectors fell between March and May compared to the preceding three-month period. In particular, the combined unemployment rate of the retail and tourism-related sectors fell by 0.5 percentage points to 9.4 percent.

Among these sectors, the unemployment rate for food and beverage service activities fell by 0.8 percentage points to 11.3 percent. Meanwhile, the construction sector's unemployment rate declined by 0.6 percentage points to 10.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the number of employee reference inquiries requested by employers during the recruitment process in the first quarter of 2021 recorded an 8.1 percent year-on-year increase, indicating signs of a recovery from Covid-19's negative impact on the job market, according to TransUnion.

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