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Unemployment and underemployment statistics for September - November 2012

     According to the latest labour force statistics (provisional figures for September - November 2012) released today (December 18) by the Census and Statistics Department, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 3.4% in September - November 2012, same as that in August - October 2012. The underemployment rate decreased from 1.5% in August - October 2012 to 1.4% in September - November 2012.

     Comparing September - November 2012 with August - October 2012, increases in the unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) were mainly observed in the financing and insurance, and import and export trade sectors, while decreases were mainly observed in the wholesale and retail sectors. As to the underemployment rate, decreases were mainly seen in the cleaning and similar activities, and warehousing and support activities for transportation sectors.

     Total employment increased by around 1 300 from 3 664 900 in August - October 2012 to 3 666 200 in September - November 2012. Over the same period, the labour force decreased by around 2 600 from 3 795 900 to 3 793 300.

     The number of unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) decreased by around 3 900 from 131 000 in August - October 2012 to 127 100 in September - November 2012. Over the same period, the number of underemployed persons also decreased by around 3 200 from 57 400 to 54 200.


     Commenting on the latest unemployment figures, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said, "Thanks to a pick-up in labour demand approaching the year-end, total employment grew modestly by around 1 300 to 3 666 200 in September - November 2012, and the number of unemployed persons fell by around 3 900 to 127 100. After seasonal adjustment, the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.4%."

      "It is noteworthy the decreases in the unemployment rate for younger persons aged 15-24 and those with post-secondary sub-degree education. Since fresh graduates and school leavers were absorbed into employment at a favourable pace, the unemployment rate for youths aged 20-24 decreased visibly by 1.9 percentage points to 8.4% while the unemployment rate for those aged 15-19 went down slightly to 14.9%," he added.

     On the short-term outlook, Mr Cheung said, "Despite the subdued economic growth, the usually more buoyant business activities in the run-up to Christmas and New Year should boost labour demand, thereby keeping the unemployment situation stable for the time being. Nonetheless, uncertainties in the external environment, such as the evolving Eurozone debt crisis and US fiscal cliff, would continue to affect our economic prospects. We will continue to stay alert and monitor development closely. The Labour Department will also maintain its efforts in providing comprehensive employment service to job-seekers."

     The Labour Department held 17 large-scale job fairs in 2012. Altogether, 444 organisations conducted on-the-spot recruitment in the job fairs, offering over 37 000 vacancies. Ten training bodies also took part in two of the job fairs to receive job-training applications. A large-scale job fair will be held on January 11, 2013 in North District with more than 50 employers offering over 4 800 vacancies from the retail, catering, property management and other industries. Five training bodies will introduce job training and receive applications on the spot.

Further Information

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

     The survey for September - November 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 2012 is now available and the next issue covering the quarter October - December 2012 will be available by end February 2013. Users can download this publication free of charge at the website of the Census and Statistics Department (

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

Ends/Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Issued at HKT 16:30


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