Jobless rate steady as graduates find work

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 September, 2005, 12:00am

August saw no change in the unemployment rate as more fresh graduates joined the job market and found work, keeping the level unchanged at 5.7 per cent, the government said.

It is the fourth consecutive month that the jobless rate has held steady at 5.7 per cent, the lowest level since October 2001, when it fell to 5.5 per cent. Month on month, the underemployment rate dipped slightly to 2.7 per cent from 2.8 per cent.

The number of people with jobs also continued to rise, reaching a record 3.38 million last month, up by about 14,400. A government spokesman said this showed a higher proportion of school leavers was joining the workforce.

'Looking ahead, labour demand is likely to continue to grow along with the sustained pick-up in overall economic activity. This will help relieve pressure on the unemployment rate in the coming months,' the spokesman added. 'The overall labour market sentiment has remained positive.'

Census and Statistics Department data show that, month on month, much of the improvement was in the construction, wholesale and retail trades, restaurants and hotels as well as in the amusement and recreational services sectors. Manufacturing, sanitary and education jobs fared worse.

Citigroup senior economist Joe Lo Nim-cho said he expected employment growth to continue at least for the next few months as tourism, hospitality and other related industries benefited from the recent opening of Hong Kong Disneyland. August saw about 14,400 people find jobs, more than double the 6,300 recorded in July.

'Even though the jobless rate has remained unchanged, the growth in employment has risen, especially during June, July and August, the months leading up to the theme park opening,' Mr Lo said. He is forecasting a 5.3 per cent jobless rate by the end of the year.