Macau jobless rate doubles as GDP forecast to decline

Macau's unemployment rate at the end of last year reached 5.4 per cent, up from 2.7 per cent in December 1997.

The Macau Statistics and Census Services said the rate had remained unchanged at 5.4 per cent between September and December.

Underemployment rose from 0.7 per cent at the end of 1997 to 1.7 per cent in December. Macau had a workforce of 210,000 late last year, with about 11,300 jobless.

The Macau Social Security Fund, membership of which is mandatory for all full-time employees in the private sector, offers temporary basic unemployment benefits.

A number of vocational training and job creation programmes have been launched recently by the enclave's Government, while Stanley Ho Hung-sun's casino monopoly franchise company, Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau, has set aside a 50 million pataca fund to support the Government's labour market policies.

Macau's gross domestic product (GDP) has shown negative growth since 1996 and its Monetary and Foreign Exchange Authority has forecast a 3.4 per cent drop in GDP for last year with figures projected to dip to 56.4 billion patacas at the end of 1998.