Unemployment rises amid signs of hiring slowdown

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 October, 2012, 5:47pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 October, 2012, 7:27pm

Hong Kong’s unemployment rate rose slightly last month to 3.3 per cent amid signs that firms are getting more cautious about hiring, the Census and Statistics Department said on Thursday.

That meant the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the three months ending in September went up by 0.1 percentage point, from 3.2 per cent in the June-August period, department figures showed.

This was the first increase in the jobless rate since February.

The number of people without jobs rose by around 1,300, to 132,900. Most of September’s job losses were in the insurance, manufacturing and retail sectors, the department said.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said the short-term outlook would become more uncertain “amid more cautious hiring sentiment and the moderation in domestic demand in recent months”.

Also, the risks of a weaker global economy would overshadow Hong Kong’s situation, he said.

“[For those reasons], there might be some upward pressure on the unemployment rate in the coming months,” Cheung said.

However, a contrary trend emerged in the underemployment rate – a measure of those unable to find at least 35 hours of work a week. It decreased to 1.6 per cent from 1.7 per cent.

Drops in underemployment were mainly reported in the construction, and food and beverage, sectors.