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Unemployment and underemployment statistics for February - April 2012

     According to the latest labour force statistics (provisional figures for February - April 2012) released today (May 17) by the Census and Statistics Department, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased from 3.4% in January - March 2012 to 3.3% in February - April 2012.  The underemployment rate also decreased from 1.6% in January - March 2012 to 1.5% in February - April 2012.

     Comparing February - April 2012 with January - March 2012, decreases in the unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) were mainly observed in the cleaning and similar activities, and financing sectors.  As for the underemployment rate, decreases were mainly seen in the decoration, repair and maintenance for buildings, and repair, laundry, domestic and other personal service activities sectors.

     Total employment was 3 649 300 in February - April 2012, about the same as 3 649 600 in January - March 2012.  The labour force was 3 774 100 in February - April 2012, also about the same as 3 773 700 in January - March 2012.

     The number of unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) increased slightly by around 600 from 124 100 in January - March 2012 to 124 700 in February - April 2012.  Over the same period, the number of underemployed persons decreased by around 1 100 from 58 600 to 57 500.


     Commenting on the latest unemployment figures, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said, "Labour demand remained largely firm in recent period.  Total employment stood at 3 649 300 in February - April 2012, broadly on a par with the peak in January - March.  The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate edged down by 0.1 percentage point from 3.4% to 3.3% over the same period."

     On the short-term outlook, Mr Cheung said, "While the positive hiring sentiment still generally prevails among employers as indicated by the recent vacancy and business tendency survey results, the near-term outlook will depend on whether job creation in the corporate sector can sustain at a pace sufficiently fast enough to absorb the increase in labour supply over the summer months.  The potential increase in entry of fresh graduates and school leavers due to this double cohort year could pose additional pressure on the employment situation.  We will closely monitor development, and remain vigilant to the impact brought by external uncertainties, including the evolving Eurozone debt crisis and slack in the major advanced economies, on the Hong Kong economy."

     Mr Cheung added, "This year, we will have two batches of senior secondary school graduates (Secondary 7 students under the Old Academic Structure and Secondary 6 students under the New Senior Secondary academic structure), estimated at around 100 000.  The Government has put in place a series of measures to assist these graduates on both the educational and employment fronts.  For those who choose to enter the labour market, the Labour Department, Employees Retraining Board and Vocational Training Council will collaborate to assist them by providing comprehensive employment support services and a wide range of vocational training opportunities to enhance their employability."

     Mr Cheung pointed out that the Labour Department had launched a special tailor-made service package ("JOBS GO-GO-GOAL") running from May to August this year, to equip the senior secondary school graduates for the job market.  These include the Youth Employment Start (Y.E.S.) that provides various career advisory and employment support programmes, and the "Solar Project 2012" in collaboration with Radio 2 of Radio Television Hong Kong to promote the Youth Pre-employment Training Programme and Youth Work Experience and Training Scheme.

      "The Labour Department will also source job vacancies suitable for senior secondary school graduates and organise various large-scale and district-based job fairs during which on-the-spot job interviews are available for some vacancies.  A dedicated webpage will also be rolled out to provide information on the relevant events and the employment market while listing out job vacancies without experience requirement for these graduates to apply.

      "The Employees Retraining Board has also launched a programme entitled 'Learn and Leap - Teen's Action 2012'.  The programme aims at providing employment market information to senior secondary school graduates and assisting them in navigating their career journey.  The Board also plans to introduce the 'Youth Employment Set Sail' courses for secondary school graduates in 2012-13.  Initially, two courses will be offered, providing training on transferable vocational skills and assistance in obtaining relevant trade qualifications for the young people interested in the fields of accountancy, as well as information and communications technology," he said.

Further Information

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

     The survey for February - April 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 October - December 2011 is now available and the next issue covering the quarter January - March 2012 will be available by end May 2012.  Users can download this publication free of charge at the website of the Census and Statistics Department (

     Enquiries for labour force statistics for February - April 2012 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 17, 2012
Issued at HKT 16:30


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