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Unemployment and underemployment statistics for October - December 2012

     According to the latest labour force statistics (provisional figures for October - December 2012) released today (January 17) by the Census and Statistics Department, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased from 3.4% in September - November 2012 to 3.3% in October - December 2012. The underemployment rate increased from 1.4% in September - November 2012 to 1.5% in October - December 2012.

     Comparing October - December 2012 with September - November 2012, decreases in the unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) were mainly observed in the insurance, cleaning and similar activities, and retail sectors. As to the underemployment rate, increases were mainly seen in the decoration, repair and maintenance for buildings, transportation, and repair, laundry, domestic and other personal service activities sectors.

     Total employment increased by around 23 400 from 3 666 200 in September - November 2012 to 3 689 600 in October - December 2012. Over the same period, the labour force also increased by around 13 300 from 3 793 300 to 3 806 600.

     The number of unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) decreased by around 10 100 from 127 100 in September - November 2012 to 117 000 in October - December 2012. Over the same period, the number of underemployed persons increased by around 2 600 from 54 200 to 56 800.


     Commenting on the latest unemployment figures, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said, "Thanks to the recent vibrant business activity and seasonal rise in labour demand towards the year-end, total employment increased further by around 23 400 to a new record high of 3 689 600 in October - December 2012. As such, the number of unemployed persons and the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined to 117 000 and 3.3% respectively.

     "It is noteworthy that youth employment continued to improve. The unemployment rate for youths aged 15-24 went down further by 1.6 percentage points to 7.7%. Within this particular group, the unemployment rate for those aged 15-19 decreased further by 2.2 percentage points to 12.7%, while the unemployment rate for those aged 20-24 went down by 1.4 percentage points to 7.0%."

     Mr Cheung added, "The labour market remained tight in 2012 as a whole. Total employment sustained its growth and the unemployment rate stayed at relatively low levels, signifying another year of virtually full employment for the local workforce, with 90 900 jobs (provisional figure) added in 2012 over 2011."

     Mr Cheung further pointed out that the annual unemployment rate decreased by 0.1 percentage point from 3.4% in 2011 to 3.3% (provisional figure) in 2012. For 2012 as a whole, the labour force and total employment registered growth of 2.4% and 2.5% respectively (provisional figures), after the corresponding increases of 2.0% and 2.9% in 2011.

     "Last year, the Labour Department recorded 1 144 424 private sector vacancies, an all-time high figure and up by 27.1% over 2011. The Labour Department will maintain its efforts in providing comprehensive and free employment service to job-seekers," Mr Cheung added.

     On the short-term outlook, Mr Cheung said, "The prevailing strength of domestic demand and inbound tourism in the run-up to the Lunar New Year will boost labour demand, thereby helping to keep the unemployment rate at a low level. Despite this, uncertainties in the external environment will continue to affect the local economy and hiring sentiment. We will stay vigilant and monitor development closely."

Further Information

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

     The survey for October - December 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 October - December 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, January 17, 2013
Issued at HKT 16:30


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