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Unemployment and underemployment statistics for January - March 2013

     According to the latest labour force statistics (provisional figures for January - March 2013) released today (April 18) by the Census and Statistics Department, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased from 3.4% in December 2012 - February 2013 to 3.5% in January - March 2013. The underemployment rate also increased from 1.5% in December 2012 - February 2013 to 1.6% in January - March 2013.

     Comparing January - March 2013 with December 2012 - February 2013, increases in the unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) were mainly observed in the cleaning and similar activities, and accommodation and food services sectors. As to the underemployment rate, increases were mainly seen in the postal and courier activities and construction sectors.

     Total employment increased by around 8 200 from 3 712 000 in December 2012 - February 2013 to 3 720 200 in January - March 2013. Over the same period, the labour force also increased by around 17 600 from 3 835 100 to 3 852 700.

     The number of unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) increased by around 9 400 from 123 100 in December 2012 - February 2013 to 132 500 in January - March 2013. Over the same period, the number of underemployed persons also increased by around 2 500 from 58 600 to 61 100.


     Commenting on the latest unemployment figures, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said, "Labour demand held buoyant in the first quarter of 2013 and total employment rose further to a new record high of 3 720 200. Nevertheless, as the labour force likewise expanded by a larger extent, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate edged up by 0.1 percentage point to 3.5%."

     On the short-term outlook, Mr Cheung said, "While the resilient domestic consumption and further growth of inbound tourism will continue to underpin labour demand, the employment situation going forward will hinge crucially on the overall economic growth and the capacity of the corporate sector to create jobs. Uncertainties in the external environment, including those stemming from the fluid European sovereign debt situation and the escalating geopolitical tensions, remain a cause of concern. We will stay vigilant and monitor development in the local labour market closely. The Labour Department will keep up its efforts in providing comprehensive employment service to job-seekers and enhance its employment service in relatively remote districts."

     In March 2013, the number of private sector vacancies recorded by the Labour Department amounted to 108 743, up by 9.9% over 98 940 in the same period last year. The Labour Department will organise two large-scale job fairs in Tung Chung on May 15 and 16, and will continue to organise large-scale job fairs in different locations, canvassing vacancies from various industries for application by job-seekers on the spot.

Further Information

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

     The survey for January - March 2013 covered a sample of some 25 000 households or 74 000 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 2012 is now available and the next issue covering the quarter January - March 2013 will be available by end May 2013. Users can download this publication free of charge at the website of the Census and Statistics Department (

     Enquiries for labour force statistics for January - March 2013 can be directed to the General Household Survey Section (3), Census and Statistics Department (Tel.: 2887 5508; Fax: 2508 1501; email:

Ends/Thursday, April 18, 2013
Issued at HKT 16:30


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