Unemployment and Underemployment Statistics for October - December 2013

     According to the latest labour force statistics (provisional figures for October - December 2013) released today (January 20) by the Census and Statistics Department, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased from 3.3% in September - November 2013 to 3.2% in October - December 2013.  The underemployment rate remained unchanged at 1.4% in the two periods.

     Comparing October - December 2013 with September - November 2013, decreases in the unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) were observed in most sectors, including the insurance and retail sectors.  As to the underemployment rate, increases were mainly observed in the warehousing and support activities for transportation, and education sectors, while decreases were mainly seen in the transportation, and food and beverage service activities sectors.

     Total employment increased by around 17 700 from 3 742 700 in September - November 2013 to 3 760 400 in October - December 2013.  Over the same period, the labour force also increased by around 8 900 from 3 869 900 to 3 878 800.

     The number of unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) decreased by around 8 800 from 127 200 in September - November 2013 to 118 400 in October - December 2013.  The number of underemployed persons in October - December 2013 was 55 500, about the same as 55 300 in September - November 2013.


     Commenting on the latest unemployment figures, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said, "The labour market remained tight in October - December 2013.  Total employment climbed to a new record high of 3 760 400 amidst the festive boost to labour demand towards the year-end.  The number of unemployed persons declined further to 118 400.  The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate edged down to 3.2%, the lowest level since end-2012."

     "The labour market stayed firm throughout 2013.  Total employment expanded further and the unemployment rate remained at low levels, signifying a year of full employment," Mr Cheung added.

     Mr Cheung further pointed out that for 2013 as a whole, both the labour force and total employment sustained expansion at 2.3% (provisional figure).  As a result, the annual unemployment rate held steady at a low level of 3.3% (provisional figure) in 2013.  In terms of job creation, 83 200 jobs (provisional figure) were added in 2013 over 2012.

     "Last year, the Labour Department recorded 1 216 735 private sector vacancies, an all-time high figure and up by 6.3% over 2012.  The Labour Department will keep up its efforts in providing comprehensive employment support to job-seekers and enhance its employment service in relatively remote districts," Mr Cheung pointed out.

     On the short-term outlook, Mr Cheung said, "As the more vibrant business activity in the run-up to the Lunar New Year will further render support to labour demand, the unemployment rate is expected to stay low in the near term.  Nonetheless, we need to stay vigilant, and closely monitor the evolving external environment and the potential impact on our local labour market."

Further Information

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

     The survey for October - December 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 July - September 2013 is now available and the next issue covering the quarter October - December 2013 will be available by end February 2014.  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 October - December 2013 can be directed to the General Household Survey Section (3), Census and Statistics Department (Tel.: 2887 5508; Fax: 2508 1501; E-mail: ghs@censtatd.gov.hk).

Ends/Monday, January 20, 2014
Issued at HKT 16:30