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Unemployment and Underemployment Statistics for January - March 2014

     According to the latest labour force statistics (provisional figures for January - March 2014) released today (April 22) by the Census and Statistics Department, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 3.1% in January - March 2014, same as that in December 2013 - February 2014.  The underemployment rate also remained unchanged at 1.2% in the two periods.

     Comparing January - March 2014 with December 2013 - February 2014, an increase in the unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) was mainly observed in the decoration, repair and maintenance for buildings sector, while a decrease was mainly seen in the financing sector.  As to the underemployment rate, increases were mainly observed in the foundation and superstructure works of the construction sector, and the food and beverage service activities sector, while decreases were mainly seen in the decoration, repair and maintenance for buildings, and warehousing and support activities for transportation sectors.

     Total employment decreased by around 10 900 from 3 731 900 in December 2013 - February 2014 to 3 721 000 in January - March 2014.  Over the same period, the labour force also decreased by around 4 200 from 3 844 300 to 3 840 100.

     The number of unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) increased by around 6 600 from 112 500 in December 2013 - February 2014 to 119 100 in January - March 2014.  Over the same period, the number of underemployed persons also increased by around 800 from 46 900 to 47 700.


     Commenting on the latest unemployment figures, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said, "The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stayed at a 16-year low of 3.1% in January - March 2014, reflecting the persistently tight labour market.  Total employment, though subsiding further from its earlier festive high around the Lunar New Year, showed little change from the level in the same period last year.  Meanwhile, the underemployment rate remained at 1.2%, also a 16-year low."

     "To promote youth employment, the Government will continue to provide employment support and training services on all fronts through the Labour Department, Vocational Training Council, Employees Retraining Board, etc.  The Labour Department has launched a number of pilot projects with employers and various organisations under the Youth Employment and Training Programme this year.  These include the 'Achieve the poTEENtial', 'Service Industries Traineeship Scheme íV Retail' and the first pilot project specifically catering for sub-degree holders to enhance the employability of young people and promote their employment opportunities," he added.

     On the short-term outlook, Mr Cheung said, "The unemployment rate is likely to stay at a relatively low level on the back of a largely stable domestic segment.  Nonetheless, we will continue to monitor how the external environment evolves and the potential impact on the local labour market.  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."

     The Labour Department will continue to hold large-scale job fairs in different districts to facilitate easy access to employment information.  It will hold two large-scale job fairs in Tung Chung on May 15 and 16 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 2014 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 2013 is now available and the next issue covering the quarter January - March 2014 will be available by end May 2014.  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 2014 can be directed to the Social Analysis and Research Section (2), Census and Statistics Department (Tel: 2887 5508; Fax: 2508 1501; E-mail:

Ends/Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Issued at HKT 16:30


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