Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, USA
Hong Kong
News Release

Unemployment rate rises to 6.2%


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July 20, 2020 - According to the latest labor force statistics (i.e. provisional figures for April - June 2020) released today by the Census and Statistics Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased from 5.9% in March - May 2020 to 6.2% in April - June 2020. The underemployment rate also increased from 3.5% in March - May 2020 to 3.7% in April - June 2020.

Comparing April - June 2020 with March - May 2020, the unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) increased across almost all the major economic sectors, with more distinct increases observed in the decoration, repair and maintenance for buildings sector; import and export trade sector; and warehousing and support activities for transportation sector. As to the underemployment rate, increases were mainly seen in the transportation sector and education sector.

Total employment in April - June 2020 was 3,620,400, about the same as in March - May 2020 (3,619,500). The labor force increased by around 11,100 from 3,850,000 in March - May 2020 to 3,861,100 in April - June 2020.

The number of unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) increased by around 10,300 from 230,400 in March - May 2020 to 240,700 in April - June 2020. Over the same period, the number of underemployed persons also increased by around 7,800 from 135,100 to 142,900.

Commenting on the latest unemployment figures, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Dr Law Chi-kwong said, “The labor market continued to deteriorate for the second quarter of 2020 as a whole, but the pressure faced by the labor market showed signs of easing towards the end of the quarter as the local epidemic situation abated in May and June. The launch of the Employment Support Scheme also helped counter the headwinds facing the labor market. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by 0.3 percentage point from March - May 2020 to 6.2% in April - June, the highest in more than 15 years. The underemployment rate rose by 0.2 percentage point to 3.7%, the highest in close to 17 years. In April - June, while total employment still declined by 6.5% year-on-year, it was about the same as in March - May, suggesting that the employment situation showed signs of stabilization towards the end of the quarter. In addition, the labor force rose modestly by 0.3% in April - June over March - May, reversing the downtrend seen in recent periods.”

“Analyzed by sector, the unemployment rate of the consumption- and tourism-related sectors (viz. retail, accommodation and food services sectors) combined edged up to 10.7% in April - June 2020, the highest since August - October 2003 after the onslaught of SARS, but their combined underemployment rate eased somewhat. Among these sectors, the unemployment rate for food and beverage service activities stayed near the post-SARS high, at 14.7%. Meanwhile, the unemployment rates of those involved in decoration, repair and maintenance for buildings, import and export trade, and warehousing and support activities for transportation increased visibly to multi-year highs.”

Looking ahead, Dr Law said, “The still serious epidemic situations in certain parts of the world, and renewed surge in local cases lately serve as a timely reminder that the economic outlook is still subject to huge uncertainties. The local labor market situation going forward will depend very much on how the global and local epidemic situations evolve. To preserve the vitality of the economy, the Government has rolled out relief measures of unprecedented scale, including a series of measures on job retention and job creation which help keep workers in employment. The Government will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

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