Figures released today are expected to show a climb in the jobless rate towards eight per cent in the past quarter. A top economist predicts the figure will stay high as uncertainties over the global economy and structural adjustment continue. The Government is to announce the latest job figures this afternoon, with analysts expecting a rise from 7.4 per cent to between 7.6 and 7.8 per cent. Professor Francis Lui Ting-ming, director of the Centre of Economic Development at the University of Science and Technology, warned the situation could further deteriorate with the fallout from a series of corporate scandals in the United States. Because of economic integration with the mainland and structural adjustment, Professor Lui said the unemployment rate in Hong Kong was likely to rise for some time. Recent audit scandals in the US had further complicated the situation, he said. 'Hong Kong is going through a transition period and we are bound to feel the pain. A vigorous global economy could palliate it to a certain extent. But now it seems we are unlikely to get any help from the United States or Europe,' Professor Lui said. While many big companies started hiring a few months ago, negative changes in the US economy could nip the recovery in its bud. 'The audit standard in the US is very high. The scandals make people wonder that if it could happen to the US big companies, it could also happen here. This add uncertainty to the Asia market,' Professor Lui said. He also warned that the government must take steps to tighten the bankruptcy regulations. 'Now many people see bankruptcies as an easy way out or even a strategy to make quick cash,' he said. 'If the government does not tighten the regulations and increase the penalties, the situation could become much worse.' In the latest round of job losses, about 100 workers were laid off after a Tsuen Wan restaurant announced it would close today. A manager at Hon Po restaurant in Texaco Road said management warned them of the closure about two weeks ago. Hon Po restaurant is one of the biggest traditional Chinese restaurant chains in Hong Kong. The group still has 16 branches after yesterday's closure. The Labour Department handled 62 labour disputes related to the catering industry in the first half of this year affecting more than 3,000 people. Household product retailer Pricerite Group provided a rare glimpse of hope in an otherwise dire job market when it held a job show yesterday to recruit 150 workers on wages of between $6,000 and $20,000 a month. It did not appear that the firm was inundated with applicants. Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology Henry Tang Ying-yen yesterday urged the public not to lose faith in the territory's economy, saying he believed Hong Kong could recover by re-inventing itself with technology and integration with the Pearl River Delta economy. Mr Tang said the government would consider offering tax and land incentives to encourage developing innovative technology and multi-media.