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Unemployment and underemployment statistics for February - April 2011

     According to the latest labour force statistics released today (May 19) by the Census and Statistics Department, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased slightly from 3.4% in January - March 2011 to 3.5% (provisional figure) in February - April 2011.  The underemployment rate also increased from 1.8% to 1.9% (provisional figure).

     Comparing February - April 2011 with January - March 2011, increases in the unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) were mainly observed in the arts, entertainment and recreation, and import/export trade and wholesale sectors.  As to the underemployment rate, increases were mainly seen in the arts, entertainment and recreation, as well as foundation and superstructure sectors.

     Total employment increased by around 8 200 from 3 577 300 in January - March 2011 to 3 585 500 (provisional figure) in February - April 2011.  Over the same period, the labour force increased by around 15 700 from 3 701 800 to 3 717 500 (provisional figure).

     The number of unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) increased by around 7 400 from 124 500 in January - March 2011 to 131 900 (provisional figure) in February - April 2011.  Over the same period, the number of underemployed persons increased by around 2 600 from 66 300 to 68 900 (provisional figure).


     The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose slightly by 0.1 percentage point from January - March 2011 to 3.5% in February - April 2011, after reaching a 31-month low of 3.4% in the first quarter of this year.  For young persons aged 15-24, the unemployment rate rose slightly by 0.2 percentage point from 8.8% in the previous period to 9.0%.

     Commenting on the latest unemployment figures, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said, "Total employment increased notably further in February - April 2011 by 8 200 to 3 585 500, amidst continued robust economic growth and positive hiring sentiment in the corporate sector.  However, as this was outpaced by an even bigger increase in the labour force, unemployment edged up somewhat during the period."

     On the short-term outlook, Mr Cheung said, "In the light of the latest economic data and survey feedback, labour demand is expected to remain firm in the near term.  However, a pick-up in the labour supply growth seems likely in the next few months, with a new batch of fresh graduates and school leavers entering the labour market.  The implementation of statutory minimum wage may also induce some new entrants into the labour market.  The impact on unemployment will depend on the pace of job creation relative to the growth in labour supply."

     "Since April 2010, the number of new private sector vacancies received by the Labour Department per working day has stayed at a high level of about 3 000 on average.  Entering May this year, this level has been maintained."

     Mr Cheung said that the Labour Department would step up its efforts in providing a free and comprehensive range of employment services to job seekers. "With the implementation of statutory minimum wage, large-scale job fairs targeted specifically at the likely affected sectors will be organised on May 25-26 and in July 2011.  The Labour Department will continue to promote employment programmes for different vulnerable groups and proactively adopt a multi-pronged approach comprising measures on all fronts to facilitate employment of vulnerable groups of job seekers.  We will closely monitor the interaction between demand and supply in the labour market, as well as the local and external economic environment," he added.

Further information

     The unemployment and underemployment statistics were compiled from the findings of the continuous General Household Survey.

     The survey for February - April 2011 covered a sample of some 24 000 households or 74 000 persons, selected in accordance with a scientifically designed sampling scheme to represent the population of Hong Kong.

     Data on labour force characteristics were obtained from the survey by interviewing each member aged 15 or over in the sampled households.  

     In the survey, the definitions used in measuring unemployment and underemployment follow closely those recommended by the International Labour Organisation.

     Detailed analysis of labour force characteristics is given in the "Quarterly Report on General Household Survey" which is published four times a year.  The current issue of the publication covering the quarter October - December 2010 is now available and the next issue covering the quarter January - March 2011 will be available by end May 2011.  Users can download this publication free of charge at the website of the Census and Statistics Department (

     Enquiries for more detailed labour force statistics for January - March 2011 can be directed to the General Household Survey Section (2), Census and Statistics Department (Tel: 2887 5508; Fax: 2508 1501; E-mail:

Ends/Thursday, May 19, 2011
Issued at HKT 16:33


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