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Unemployment and underemployment statistics for August - October 2011

     According to the latest labour force statistics released today (November 17) by the Census and Statistics Department, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased from 3.2% in July - September 2011 to 3.3% (provisional figure) in August - October 2011.  The underemployment rate fell from 1.7% in July - September 2011 to 1.6% (provisional figure) in August - October 2011.

     Comparing August - October 2011 with July - September 2011, increases in the unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) were mainly observed in the construction, import/export trade and wholesale, and cleaning and similar activities sectors.  As for the underemployment rate, decreases were mainly seen in the construction sector as well as the cleaning and similar activities sector.

     Total employment decreased by around 2 300 from 3 642 400 in July - September 2011 to 3 640 100 (provisional figure) in August - October 2011.  Over the same period, the labour force also decreased by around 4 200 from 3 769 400 to 3 765 200 (provisional figure).

     The number of unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) decreased by around 2 000 from 127 100 in July - September 2011 to 125 100 (provisional figure) in August - October 2011.  Over the same period, the number of underemployed persons decreased by around 7 000 from 65 800 to 58 800 (provisional figure).


     The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose slightly by 0.1 percentage point from July - September 2011 to 3.3% in August - October 2011, representing the first increase since February - April this year.  The underemployment rate dropped by 0.1 percentage point to 1.6%.

     Commenting on the latest unemployment figures, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said, "Total employment, having followed an uptrend for seven consecutive months, decreased slightly by about 2 300 to 3 640 100 in August - October 2011.  On a seasonally adjusted basis, the unemployment rate increased slightly by 0.1 percentage point to 3.3%."

     On the short-term outlook, Mr Cheung said, "The Hong Kong economy would continue to be affected by the worsening external conditions amidst the deepening Eurozone debt crisis and the subdued economic growth in the United States.  Employers generally are expected to remain cautious towards staff hiring.  We will continue to be vigilant and closely monitor development.

     "Since the implementation of the statutory minimum wage, the number of  private sector vacancies recorded by the Labour Department has stayed at a high level of over 3 000 per working day on average.  This level has been maintained in November so far.  The Labour Department will keep up its efforts in providing comprehensive and free employment service to job-seekers," Mr Cheung added.

     In October 2011, the number of private sector vacancies recorded by the Labour Department increased by 17.1% from 73 174 in September 2011 to 85 716, and up by 20.4% over 71 216 in the same period last year.
Further information

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

     The survey for August - October 2011 covered a sample of some 24 000 households or 71 000 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 April - June 2011 is now available and the next issue covering the quarter July - September 2011 will be available by end November 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 July - September 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, November 17, 2011
Issued at HKT 16:30


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