Hong Kong workers face positive yet cautious job outlook in fourth quarter

While some employers plan to increase staff levels, others are taking a cautious approach amid concern over the Europe debt crisis

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 September, 2012, 12:22pm

Hong Kong workers are facing a positive yet cautious job outlook in the fourth quarter of this year, a survey shows.

ManpowerGroup polled about 66,000 employers in 42 countries and cities in July, including 808 in Hong Kong.

While companies in each of eight places surveyed in Asia-Pacific plan to increase staff levels in the fourth quarter, growth has slowed except in New Zealand and Australia.

In Hong Kong, 16 per cent of employers said they planned to increase staff levels while 4 per cent planned to cut levels. This leaves the net employment growth outlook at 12 per cent.

However, actual hiring figures show growth has actually slowed by 3 per cent quarter-on-quarter and 9 per cent year-on-year.

"Hong Kong people can expect a positive but cautious employment outlook in the fourth quarter. While companies are still hiring, the growth has slowed down," said Lancy Chui Yuk-shan, managing director of the firm's Hong Kong, Macau and Vietnam operations.

"The employers are concerned about how the Europe debt crisis will develop."

Those in the finance, insurance and real estate sectors, and also the wholesale and retail areas plan the biggest recruitment, with the net employment outlook at 15 per cent.

But Chui said the quarter-on-quarter growth for these two sectors had slowed by 4 per cent.

"According to the latest figures, the mainland's economic growth has slowed down to 7.6 per cent. This is like a warning sign to Hong Kong retailers that mainlanders are cutting back on the purchase of luxury goods," she said.

The net employment outlook is 11 per cent for manufacturing, 10 per cent for mining and construction, 12 per cent for services, and 9 per cent for transport and utilities.

The employment outlook in Taiwan is the most optimistic among all the places polled, with net employment at 34 per cent. The outlook report says the feel-good factor is fuelled by a thriving tourism industry.

The job outlook in Greece is the worst, with the net employment outlook at minus 16 per cent. The figure is 16 per cent for mainland China and 8 per cent for the US.