HK unemployment shows slight rise

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 September, 2007, 12:00am

Unemployment has increased slightly, the first rise in nearly two years, but total employment has reached a record high of 3.5 million.

Provisional government figures show unemployment from June to August rose by 0.1 of a percentage point to 4.2 per cent.

The city's jobless rate had eased steadily from 5.4 per cent in the last quarter of 2005 to a post-Asian financial crisis low of 4.1 per cent from May to July. Fuelled by school leavers and graduates joining the labour market, the number of unemployed rose by 8,500 to 166,400 from June to August. The figure for May to July was 157,900.

Increases were seen mainly in the communications, property and wholesale trade sectors.

The latest figures from the Census and Statistics Department show the provisional underemployment rate for June to August remained at 2.3 per cent, or 83,800. The rate measures the number of people who cannot find more than 35 hours work a week.

While underemployment increased in the retail trade and welfare and community services sectors, this was offset by falls in the foundation and superstructure construction, and communications sectors.

Sustained economic growth saw employment hit another record high of 3.5 million in the May to July period. The labour force grew by 18,500 workers to 3,670,000.

'Because of the increased number of fresh graduates and school leavers entering the labour market, the total labour force grew at a much faster pace ... leading to an increase in the number of unemployed,' a government spokesman said.

With the return of summer workers to schools at the start of the new academic year, the scope for a further significant rise in the labour supply may become increasingly limited, the spokesman said.

The Labour Department reported 58,564 vacancies in the private sector last month, an 18.4 per cent increase compared with the same period last year. It receives more than 2,500 vacancies each working day.