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Unemployment and underemployment statistics for March - May 2013

     According to the latest labour force statistics (provisional figures for March - May 2013) released today (June 18) by the Census and Statistics Department, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased from 3.5% in February - April 2013 to 3.4% in March - May 2013. The underemployment rate remained unchanged at 1.6% in the two periods.

     Comparing March - May 2013 with February - April 2013, decreases in the unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) were mainly observed in the transportation, and arts, entertainment and recreation sectors. As to the underemployment rate, an increase was mainly observed in the foundation and superstructure works of the construction sector, while a decrease was mainly seen in the education sector.

     Total employment increased by around 17 200 from 3 718 300 in February - April 2013 to 3 735 500 in March - May 2013. Over the same period, the labour force also increased by around 18 000 from 3 851 700 to 3 869 700.

     The number of unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) increased by around 700 from 133 500 in February - April 2013 to 134 200 in March - May 2013. Over the same period, the number of underemployed persons also increased by around 1 400 from 61 800 to 63 200.


     Commenting on the latest unemployment figures, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said, "Labour demand stayed firm. Total employment grew notably by around 17 200 to a new record high of 3 735 500 in March - May 2013, absorbing almost all the increased labour force and leading to a broadly stable unemployment situation. After discounting for seasonal factors, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate edged down by 0.1 percentage point to 3.4%."

     On the short-term outlook, Mr Cheung said, "The labour supply will continue to be boosted by the entry of fresh graduates and school leavers, and by some job-seekers induced by the recent increase in the statutory minimum wage rate. However, the resilience of domestic demand should to some extent cushion the pressure on unemployment rate stemming from the increasing labour supply. We will continue to closely monitor the potential impact of external uncertainties on the local economy and labour market. The Labour Department will also keep up its efforts in providing comprehensive employment service to job-seekers."

     Since January this year, the Labour Department has organised five large-scale job fairs with 202 participating organisations offering some 15 500 vacancies from different industries. Training bodies also took part in these fairs to introduce job-training opportunities and receive applications on the spot. For three consecutive days starting tomorrow (June 19-21), the Department will stage another three large-scale job fairs in Tuen Mun during which a total of 60 organisations will offer more than 4 100 vacancies from the retail, catering, property management industries etc for application by job-seekers on the spot. The Department will also hold two large-scale job fairs in Tseung Kwan O on July 16 and 17.

     Mr Cheung pointed out that to assist fresh secondary school leavers to enter the labour market, the Labour Department had launched a special programme entitled "Career Get-Set-Go" from May to August this year to provide employment support through a series of activities.

     "To encourage employers to offer more openings to young people, the middle-aged and persons with disabilities and provide them with on-the-job training for enhancing their employability and employment opportunities, the Labour Department has increased the allowance payable under the Youth Employment and Training Programme, the Employment Programme for the Middle-aged and the Work Orientation and Placement Scheme with effect from June 1 this year. The allowance payable to trainees has also increased at the same time with an aim to encourage participation in workplace attachment training under the Youth Employment and Training Programme," he added.

Further Information

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

     The survey for March - May 2013 covered a sample of some 25 000 households or 75 000 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 January - March 2013 is now available and the next issue covering the quarter April - June 2013 will be available by end August 2013. Users can download this publication free of charge at the website of the Census and Statistics Department (

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

Ends/Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Issued at HKT 16:30


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