Employment rises, but it may not last for long

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 September, 2011, 12:00am


Hong Kong's jobless rate fell to a 13-year low in the past three months, but the jobs outlook may worsen soon.

The unemployment rate between June and August fell to 3.2 per cent from 3.4 per cent between May and July, Census and Statistics Department figures show.

There were new jobs in construction, warehousing, transport, the food and beverage sector, and professional services. The number of people in work rose by about 10,800 from 3,625,800 in May-July to 3,636,600 in the June-August period, provisional figures show.

Despite the latest improvement, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung warned job-seekers that employers were becoming more prudent.

'Hiring sentiment among employers has turned more cautious amid the deepening euro zone sovereign debt crisis and the fragile economy in the United States,' he said.

His comments came as a quarterly survey of manpower by the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management indicated the labour market would become less vibrant due to poorer market sentiment.

The study covered 87 companies with a total of 87,119 employees. Of these, 21.8 per cent intended to hire more staff in the third quarter of this year, nearly a third fewer than in the second quarter.

At the same time, 1.1 per cent of companies intended to hire fewer staff, the same as the previous quarter, while 12.7 per cent of companies intended to freeze hiring in the third quarter, 3.9 percentage points more than said so in the previous quarter.

Institute president Francis Mok Gar-lon said the survey results showed that the labour market was less vibrant than earlier in the year.

'Besides weaker hiring intentions among employers for the third quarter, the study revealed that some employers had already adopted a prudent approach in manpower planning earlier this year.' he said.

Mok agreed that the pace of hiring appeared to be slower due to the debt crisis in the US and Europe. 'Recent developments in the financial sector, for instance, have been reflected in poorer market results and sentiment on a global scale,' he said.

Hong Kong has remained relatively unscathed by the global financial crisis. Unemployment in the US was 9.1 per cent in August, down from 10.1 per cent in October 2009.


Hong Kong's unemployment rate in June, 2003, following the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome