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Unemployment and underemployment statistics for February - April 2016

     According to the latest labour force statistics (i.e. provisional figures for February - April 2016) released today (May 17) by the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD), the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 3.4% in February - April 2016, same as that in January - March 2016. The underemployment rate also remained unchanged at 1.4% in the two periods.

     Comparing February - April 2016 with January - March 2016, movements in the unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) in different industry sectors varied. Increases were mainly seen in the construction sector and professional and business services (excluding cleaning and similar activities) sector while decreases were mainly seen in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector as well as information and communications sector. As to the underemployment rate, an increase was mainly observed in the retail sector while a decrease was mainly seen in the food and beverage service activities sector.

     Total employment decreased by around 5 200 from 3 811 800 in January - March 2016 to 3 806 600 in February - April 2016. Over the same period, the labour force also decreased by around 1 400 from 3 942 200 to 3 940 800.

     The number of unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) increased by around 3 800 from 130 400 in January - March 2016 to 134 200 in February - April 2016. The number of underemployed persons in February - April 2016 was 53 300, about the same (53 400) as in January - March 2016.


     Commenting on the latest unemployment figures, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said, "The labour market held largely stable in overall terms in February - April 2016, with both the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate and the underemployment rate remaining unchanged at 3.4% and 1.4% respectively. Reflecting the economic slowdown, total employment increased mildly over a year earlier.

     "Analysed by major sector, the unemployment rate of the construction sector rose further by 0.5 percentage point over the preceding period to 5.4% in February - April 2016. Although such increase to some extent reflected the seasonality factor, the recent property market consolidation and the fall-off in construction activity might have also been at play. At the same time, amid the setback in inbound tourism and weaker local consumption, the unemployment rate of the consumption- and tourism-related segment (viz. retail, accommodation and food services as a whole) went up further by 0.2 percentage point to 5.3%, with employment registering a year-on-year decline for the 12th consecutive period."

     On the short-term outlook, Mr Cheung said, "The near-term employment outlook remains overshadowed by the strong external headwinds and a slow-growing local economy. The weakening labour demand in sectors relating to trade, tourism and construction also warrants particular concern. We will stay vigilant and closely monitor development, especially the employment situation of grassroots workers."

     "To provide employment information and assist job-seekers, the Labour Department will continue to organise job fairs of different scales. The three industry-based Recruitment Centres will continue to facilitate employers from catering, retail and construction industry to conduct recruitment activities and interview job-seekers on-the-spot while local job centres will also continue to organise district-based job fairs. A range of programmes will also be organised to cater for the pre-employment training and employment needs of secondary school graduates, especially those who choose to enter the employment market upon graduation," Mr Cheung added.

     On large-scale job fair, the Labour Department will stage a three-day job fair starting from tomorrow (May 18) at the DĄPPark in Tsuen Wan, with the first day being dedicated for the retail industry. Altogether some 90 employers will participate in the three-day event, offering over 4 100 job vacancies from various industries, of which many are suitable for young people and fresh secondary school graduates. In addition, the Department will co-organise the Hong Kong Airport Career Expo 2016 with the Airport Authority Hong Kong at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on June 10 - 12, providing numerous vacancies related to the aviation industry and airport operation. On July 12 - 13, the Department will also stage large-scale job fairs at Sha Tin Town Hall.

     On support for fresh graduates, the Labour Department has launched a special programme - "Career Let's go" from May to August to help secondary school graduates this year find suitable work through a series of diversified activities. Youth Employment Start (Y.E.S.) will organise various training courses and an interactive drama to enhance the job-hunting skills of graduates as well as help them unleash their potential at work and learn the true value of working; and provide graduates with career assessment and career consultation services. Also, a "Youth Recruitment Day@Youth Employment and Training Programme" will be held at Sha Tin Town Hall on May 19, with employers from various industries offering about 450 on-the-job training vacancies suitable for young people and conducting on-the-spot recruitments.

Further information

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

     The survey for February - April 2016 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 latest issue of the publication contains statistics for the quarter October - December 2015 while the next issue covering the quarter January - March 2016 will be available by end May 2016. Users can download this publication free of charge at the website of the C&SD (

     For enquiries about labour force statistics, please contact the Social Analysis and Research Section (2) of the C&SD (Tel: 2887 5508 or email:

Ends/Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Issued at HKT 16:31


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