Two consecutive months of falling unemployment represents a much needed boost to Hong Kong's struggling economy. Mildly expanding demand combined with government job creation initiatives have arrested the remorseless rise in unemployment that a few months ago threatened a collapse in confidence. It is too early to predict a sustainable recovery, with anaemic consumption and a fragile trading sector subject to volatile external conditions. However, market forces are beginning to work with employees 're-pricing' themselves back into the labour market through lower wages. This has been seen in sectors such as tourism, which has benefited from increased mainland visitor arrivals. Similarly, an improved trading sector has generated new jobs with Hong Kong firms managing much of the giant flow of goods emanating from across the border. How secure these jobs are must be open to question. Many are short-term with little security. That is, however, something that the SAR workers will have to live with as competition erodes comfortable job certainties. Big firms such as telecom provider PCCW are sub-contracting out many jobs previously done in-house. The latest personal bankruptcy numbers offer a cautionary note, with the number of individuals declared bankrupt hitting a record high. More than 20,000 people have sought court protection from creditors this year, giving little evidence of an improvement in household finances. The prospect of the rot spreading to the mortgaged housing sector remains the big fear in the still deflating economy. The SAR's prospects remain muddled with a Hong Kong Productivity Council survey yesterday showing small and medium enterprises expect business conditions to deteriorate in the last quarter of the year. Since such firms dominate the economy, their wariness is perhaps the best harbinger of future hiring prospects. Past experience shows that conditions can change rapidly if external demand for goods and services shifts positively. The reality is that government pump-priming in this small and open economy can have only limited effect and workers' fortunes remain subject to international currents.