Employment changes in territory

EVERY day, we meet people working in different lines of business and in different kinds of occupations.

We meet bus drivers on our way to school; cashiers in the fast food restaurants when we take breakfast or lunch, and teachers at school.

All of them are counted in the employed population (or working population), which consist of persons aged 15 or above who are at work during a specified period of time.

The employed population and the unemployed population (which consist of persons aged 15 or above who have no jobs and are looking for jobs) together form the economically active population , or the ''labour force''.

The employed population can be distinguished into four types of ''activity status'': self-employed, employer, employee and unpaid family worker.

A person who works on his own account, neither employed by someone else nor employing others, is regarded as self-employed. Examples are freelance designers and hawkers who work on their own.

A person who works on his own account and employs one or more persons to work for him is regarded as an employer.

The concept of an employee should be quite clear. He or she may be working in the government, an industrial or commercial firm or a non-profit making organisation.

A person who lives with his family and does work as a part of the family enterprise in return for food and lodging is regarded as an unpaid family worker.

Of the 2.8 million employed population in Hong Kong in 1993, about 89 per cent were employees while only one per cent were unpaid family workers. The rest were more or less equal proportions of self-employed persons (six per cent) and employers (five per cent). The distribution was roughly the same as that of 10 years ago.

When we look at the characteristics of the employed population, we may be interested to know also the distribution by occupation or by industry.

Occupation refers to the type of work a person performs, while industry refers to the kind of business engaged by the establishment in which a person works. In statistical terms, industry is not only restricted to production activities such as manufacturing or construction. We do sometimes refer to the banking industry, for example, even colloquially.

Hong Kong's economy is undergoing structural transformation, from a predominantly manufacturing economy to a more service-oriented economy. This phenomenon can be seen from the shift in the distribution of the employed population by occupation and also by industry.

Over the past 10 years, there has been a distinct upgrading in the occupational distribution of the employed population. The proportion of persons in production occupations decreased significantly from 46 per cent in 1983 to 31 per cent in 1993, while that in professional, administrative and managerial occupations increased from 10 per cent to 14 per cent. Increases were also noted in the proportion of clerical, sales and service workers during the same period.

Analysing the employed population by industry, the proportion of people working in the manufacturing sector decreased significantly from 36 per cent to 21 per cent. On the other hand, the proportion in the services sectors increased from 32 per cent to 41 per cent.

The above information was obtained from the General Household Survey, a continuous sample survey conducted by the Census and Statistics Department.

The classification of occupations used in the survey follows the major groups of the International Standard Classification of Occupations.

Using the earlier example to illustrate, teachers are classified under the major group ''professional, administrative and managerial workers'' together with other professionals such as doctors and lawyers and managers.

As regards the classification of industries, the survey uses the major divisions of the International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities.

For example, educational service is classified under the major division ''community, social and personal services'' together with other service industries.