About 1,000 jobs would be created when work on the Penny's Bay rail link to the Disneyland project began next year, the MTRC said yesterday. The news came on the eve of Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's Policy Address tomorrow in which 15,000 new jobs may be announced to combat unemployment. An economist said the jobless rate could increase from 4.9 per cent to 5.5 per cent after the Lunar New Year holiday. Mass Transit Railway Corporation project director Russell Black said yesterday the company was still trying to finalise the project agreement with the Government, even though detailed design work had started. He said construction of the 3.2km railway must start next year so that its completion could coincide with the theme park's opening in 2005. 'There will be about 1,000 new jobs altogether, but not all at the same time. Some will be created at the project design stage and there will be some in civil and mechanical construction,' Mr Black said. 'A project like this also creates jobs for people not working on the site, such as those supplying the equipment, materials and concrete.' News of the jobs came as speculation mounted that Mr Tung would announce a series of infrastructure projects and a public service improvement initiative tomorrow to create the 15,000 jobs. About 7,000 to 10,000 may be generated from bringing forward the tendering of $5 billion worth of public works contracts, including new schools and landslip prevention work. This is in addition to continuous demand for building and maintenance workers from the public housing sector. According to the latest official figures, about 31,300 construction workers are unemployed. The Hong Kong Construction Association said the number of new jobs would depend on the amount and nature of the work. 'We urge the Government not to repeat the mistake of rushing out all the work in one go, just as they did some three years ago, which left many workers unemployed until now once the jobs dried up,' a spokesman said. A further 5,000 short-term temporary jobs, similar to those announced in last year's Policy Address, will again come from the public service sector, including urban cleaning, social care and environmental improvement. Despite the measures, Dr Li Kui-wai, City University economics and finance professor, said the jobless rate would continue its gradual climb in the next few months. A total of 172,000 people are out of work. 'The bad thing is the Lunar New Year will be in mid-February next year and it is therefore unlikely that any consumer spending momentum gained over the Christmas period can be sustained that long,' he said. Dr Li expected the jobless rate to reach 5.2 per cent for the last quarter of this year and at least 5.5 per cent in the first quarter of next year.