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Unemployment and underemployment statistics for November 2011 - January 2012
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     According to the latest labour force statistics released today (February 21) by the Census and Statistics Department, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased from 3.3% in October - December 2011 to 3.2% (provisional figure) in November 2011 - January 2012.  The underemployment rate increased from 1.4% in October - December 2011 to 1.5% (provisional figure) in November 2011 - January 2012.

     Comparing November 2011 - January 2012 with October - December 2011, decreases in the unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) were mainly observed in the foundation and superstructure, professional and business services (excluding cleaning and similar activities), and food and beverage service activities sectors.  As for the underemployment rate, increases were mainly seen in the decoration, repair and maintenance for buildings, and cleaning and similar activities sectors.

     Total employment increased by around 15 900 from 3 618 900 in October - December 2011 to 3 634 800 (provisional figure) in November 2011 - January 2012.  Over the same period, the labour force also increased by around 11 600 from 3 734 900 to 3 746 500 (provisional figure).

     The number of unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) decreased by around 4 200 from 116 000 in October - December 2011 to 111 800 (provisional figure) in November 2011 - January 2012.  Over the same period, the number of underemployed persons increased by around 3 300 from 52 400 to 55 700 (provisional figure).

     The population estimate for end-2011, with the results of the 2011 Population Census incorporated, was released today.  As a usual practice, the past series of population estimates since the 2006 Population By-census have accordingly been revised.  Likewise, the past series of labour force statistics since May - July 2006 have been revised.  The labour force statistics released as from this round (November 2011 - January 2012) onwards pertain to the newly revised series.  The time series of newly revised labour force statistics as from May - July 2006 onwards can be found in the website of the Census and Statistics Department (www.censtatd.gov.hk/hong_kong_statistics/statistics_by_subject/index.jsp?subjectID=2&charsetID=1&displayMode=T).

Commentary

     The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate edged down by 0.1 percentage point from October - December 2011 to 3.2% in November 2011 - January 2012.  The underemployment rate rose slightly by 0.1 percentage point to 1.5%.

     Commenting on the latest unemployment figures, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said, "Thanks to vibrant business activity in the run-up to the Lunar New Year, labour demand continued to increase.  Total employment surged further by about 15 900 from 3 618 900 in October - December 2011 to another record high of 3 634 800 in November 2011 - January 2012.  Meanwhile, the number of unemployed persons fell to 111 800, the lowest level since early 2008.  On a seasonally adjusted basis, the unemployment rate fell slightly by 0.1 percentage point to 3.2%, signifying a state of full employment in the labour market.

     "It is noteworthy that employment of younger persons continued to improve.  The unemployment rate for persons aged 15-24 went down further by 0.4 percentage point to 7.5%.  Within this particular group, the unemployment rate for persons aged 15-19 decreased to 10.0%, while the unemployment rate for those aged 20-24 dropped to 7.1%.

     "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 2012 so far.  The Labour Department will keep up its efforts in providing comprehensive and free employment service to job-seekers," Mr Cheung added.

     On the short-term outlook, Mr Cheung said, "As business activity tends to abate after the Lunar New Year holidays and it is customary for employers to review their staffing positions at the beginning of the year, labour demand would likely weaken in the near term.  Moreover, Hong Kong's export outlook is bleak in the near term as the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis continues to overshadow the global economy.  As such, the unemployment rate could face some upward pressure in the coming months.  We will continue to be vigilant and closely monitor development."

Further information

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

     The survey for November 2011 - January 2012 covered a sample of some 24 000 households or 72 000 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 July - September 2011 is now available and the next issue covering the quarter October - December 2011 will be available in mid-March 2012.  Users can download this publication free of charge at the website of the Census and Statistics Department (www.censtatd.gov.hk/products_and_services/products/publications/statistical_report/labour/index.jsp).

     Enquiries for labour force statistics for November 2011 - January 2012 can be directed to the General Household Survey Section (2), Census and Statistics Department (Tel.: 2887 5508; Fax: 2508 1501; e-mail: [email protected]).

Ends/Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Issued at HKT 16:31

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