Unemployment and underemployment statistics for November 2012 - January 2013

     According to the latest labour force statistics (provisional figures for November 2012 - January 2013) released today (February 21) by the Census and Statistics Department, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased from 3.3% in October - December 2012 to 3.4% in November 2012 - January 2013. The underemployment rate also increased from 1.5% in October - December 2012 to 1.6% in November 2012 - January 2013.

     Comparing November 2012 - January 2013 with October - December 2012, increases in the unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) were mainly observed in the postal and courier activities sector, wholesale sector, and foundation and superstructure works of the construction sector. As to the underemployment rate, increases were mainly seen in the construction and manufacturing sectors.

     Total employment increased by around 16 400 from 3 689 600 in October - December 2012 to 3 706 000 in November 2012 - January 2013. Over the same period, the labour force also increased by around 19 900 from 3 806 600 to 3 826 500.

     The number of unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) increased by around 3 500 from 117 000 in October - December 2012 to 120 500 in November 2012 - January 2013. Over the same period, the number of underemployed persons increased by around 3 500 from 56 800 to 60 300.


     Commenting on the latest unemployment figures, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said, "Total employment expanded notably by around 16 400 to another record high of 3 706 000 in November 2012 - January 2013, partly reflecting a seasonal upsurge in labour demand during the recent festive period. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the unemployment rate edged up by 0.1 percentage point to 3.4%."

     "It is noteworthy that youth employment has continued to improve. The unemployment rate for youths aged 15-24 went down by 0.8 percentage point to 6.9% during the same period. Within this particular group, the unemployment rate for those aged 15-19 decreased by 1.4 percentage points to 11.3%, while the unemployment rate for those aged 20-24 went down by 0.8 percentage point to 6.2%", he added.

     On the short-term outlook, Mr Cheung said, "The latest business tendency survey results indicate that overall business sentiment remains rather cautious amid the uncertainties in the external environment. With corporations normally reviewing their annual staffing position after the Lunar New Year, the unemployment rate could rise further in the near term. However, the solid growth in domestic economic activity should help to cushion in part the upward pressure on the overall unemployment rate.

     "We will stay alert and monitor development closely. The Labour Department will also maintain its efforts in providing comprehensive employment service to job-seekers."

     To enhance the employability and employment opportunities of young people, middle-aged persons and persons with disabilities, the Labour Department will increase the allowance payable to employers under the Youth Pre-employment Training Programme and Youth Work Experience and Training Scheme, the Employment Programme for the Middle-aged and the Work Orientation and Placement Scheme so as to encourage employers to offer more openings and provide on-the-job training.

     "To strengthen employment services to residents living in remote areas, the Labour Department will set up a job centre in Tung Chung to facilitate job-seekers in the region in seeking employment services and save their travelling expenses," Mr Cheung said.

Further Information

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

     The survey for November 2012 - January 2013 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 (www.censtatd.gov.hk/hkstat/sub/sp200.jsp?productCode=B1050001).

     Enquiries for labour force statistics for November 2012 - January 2013 can be directed to the General Household Survey Section (2), Census and Statistics Department (Tel: 2887 5508; Fax: 2508 1501; e-mail: ghs@censtatd.gov.hk).

Ends/Thursday, February 21, 2013
Issued at HKT 16:30