A drop of 0.1 percentage point in the unemployment rate is hardly comforting news in times of a deepening economic crisis. But with tens of billions of taxpayers money having been spent to protect jobs, it was made a big deal of by the Hong Kong government. The dip, the first in nine months, might provide some relief amid growing pressure for the government to save the economy and jobs, but the truth is that the figure has yet to fully reflect the real impact of the new wave of Covid-19 outbreak that is still ravaging the city. With the latest unemployment and underemployment rates easing by 0.1 percentage point and 0.2 percentage point respectively, officials contend that the wage subsidy scheme has fulfilled its purpose of preventing substantial job losses. Had officials sat back and done nothing, the jobless figure covering May to July might have hit 8 per cent, according to analysts. Nearly HK$44 billion has been spent to benefit 1.9 million workers under the Employment Support Scheme, in which an employer gets a maximum HK$9,000 wage subsidy per worker in return for keeping the headcount. Hong Kong jobless rate dips to 6.1 per cent but worst not over, experts warn The improved figures are also attributed to the relatively stable epidemic situation in May and June. While there was an easing in the underemployment rate in the consumption and tourism-related sectors, such as retail, accommodation and food services, their combined jobless figure still edged up to 10.8 per cent. In any case, the total unemployment rate remains at a 15-year high. The disturbing fact that 242,500 people are still struggling in the labour market should prompt the government to work harder in job creation and retention. As the economic shock waves from the ongoing outbreaks radiate across different sectors, the true scale of the damage remains to be seen. A quick rebound seems overly optimistic, if not unrealistic. We should brace for the worst before seeing significant improvements. The fluctuating global pandemic situation and the lack of reliable vaccines in the near future mean the local economy and labour market will continue to face pressure. The clamour for more support from different sectors – the latest from tourism, kindergartens and catering – shows the city is not out of the woods yet.