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



Unemployment rate rises to 5.9%

 



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June 16, 2020 - According to the latest labor force statistics (i.e. provisional figures for March - May 2020) released today by the Census and Statistics Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased from 5.2% in February - April 2020 to 5.9% in March - May 2020. The underemployment rate also increased from 3.1% in February - April 2020 to 3.5% in March - May 2020.

Comparing March - May 2020 with February - April 2020, the unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) increased across almost all the major economic sectors, with more distinct increases observed in the construction sector; retail, accommodation and food services sector; transportation sector; information and communications sector; education sector; and arts, entertainment and recreation sector. As to the underemployment rate, increases were mainly seen in the retail sector; transportation sector; and warehousing and support activities for transportation sector.

Total employment decreased by around 37,900 from 3,657,400 in February - April 2020 to 3,619,500 in March - May 2020. Over the same period, the labor force also decreased by around 9,900 from 3,859,800 to 3,849,900.

The number of unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) increased by around 27,900 from 202,500 in February - April 2020 to 230,400 in March - May 2020. Over the same period, the number of underemployed persons also increased by around 16,500 from 118,600 to 135,100.

Commenting on the latest unemployment figures, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Dr Law Chi-kwong said, “The labor market showed further deterioration in March - May 2020 as a wide range of economic activities stayed in the doldrums. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by 0.7 percentage point from the preceding three-month period to 5.9%, surpassing the peak of 5.5% in the aftermath of the global financial crisis to reach the highest in more than 15 years. The underemployment rate rose visibly by 0.4 percentage point to 3.5%, the highest in close to 17 years. The year-on-year declines in total employment and labor force widened further to 6.5% and 3.3% respectively, both the largest on record.”

“The unemployment rate of the consumption- and tourism-related sectors (viz. retail, accommodation and food services sectors) combined increased to 10.6% in March - May 2020, the highest since August - October 2003 after the onslaught of SARS, and the underemployment rate rose visibly to 6.3%, the highest on record. Among these sectors, the unemployment rate for food and beverage service activities rose to 14.8% while the underemployment rate stayed elevated at 8.2%. Meanwhile, the situation in the construction sector worsened, with the unemployment rate rising to 10.8% and the underemployment rate to 8.2%. The labor market conditions in many other sectors also weakened, particularly in transportation, information and communications, education, and arts, entertainment and recreation.”

Looking ahead, Dr Law said, “While the local epidemic situation has abated, it will take time for local economic activities to return to normal. The external environment also remains difficult as the pandemic continues to weigh on the global economy. Thus the labor market will still face pressure in the near term, yet the pace of deterioration may decelerate. 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. These measures should help keep workers in employment. The Government will monitor the situation closely.”


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