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Unemployment and Underemployment statistics for January - March 2017
     According to the latest labour force statistics (i.e. provisional figures for January - March 2017) released today (April 21) by the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD), the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased from 3.3% in December 2016 - February 2017 to 3.2% in January - March 2017. The underemployment rate remained unchanged at 1.2% in the two periods.

     Comparing January - March 2017 with December 2016 - February 2017, movements in the unemployment rates (not seasonally adjusted) and underemployment rates in different industry sectors varied, but were generally small in magnitude.

     Total employment decreased by around 2 000 from 3 824 400 in December 2016 - February 2017 to 3 822 400 in January - March 2017. Over the same period, the labour force increased by around 3 600 from 3 943 800 to 3 947 400.

     The number of unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) increased by around 5 600 from 119 400 in December 2016 - February 2017 to 125 000 in January - March 2017. The number of underemployed persons in January - March 2017 was 49 000, about the same as in December 2016 - February 2017 (48 800).


     Commenting on the latest unemployment figures, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Stephen Sui, said, "The labour market remained in a state of full employment and tightened up somewhat in January - March 2017. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate edged down by 0.1 percentage point to 3.2%, a low level last seen in the second quarter of 2014. Meanwhile, the underemployment rate stayed at a three-year low of 1.2%.

     "While there were only small movements in the unemployment rates of most of the major economic sectors when compared to the preceding three-month period, the unemployment rates of many sectors were generally lower than their year-ago levels amid the relatively favourable overall economic conditions on entering 2017. Specifically, thanks to the continued improvement of inbound tourism, the unemployment rates for all individual sectors in the consumption- and tourism-related segment (viz. retail, accommodation and food services) went down in January - March 2017 over the preceding period as well as a year earlier."

     On the short-term outlook, Mr Sui said, "Looking ahead, the labour market is expected to remain tight in the near term. However, in view of the potential impacts of various external uncertainties on the local economy and employment situation, we will stay vigilant and monitor the developments closely."

     He said that the Labour Department (LD) would continue to offer a variety of free and comprehensive employment services for job-seekers with different employment needs, including the youth, middle-aged and persons with disabilities. In terms of large-scale job-fairs, the LD will stage the Kowloon East Job Fair, including one dedicated job fair for retail industry, at Yau Tong Community Hall during May 17 to 19. About 70 employers will participate in this three-day event, offering job vacancies from various industries. Many of the vacancies are also suitable for young people and fresh secondary school graduates.

     The LD will organise another large-scale job fair at Hong Kong Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui on June 1 and 2, and will co-organise the Hong Kong International Airport Career Expo 2017 with the Airport Authority Hong Kong at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from June 9 to 11 during which many vacancies involving the aviation industry and airport operation will be offered. The department's three industry-based recruitment centres as well as the local job centres will continue to conduct recruitment activities from time to time to assist job-seekers in finding employment.

Further information

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

     The survey for January - March 2017 covered a sample of some 25 000 households or 73 000 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 2016 while the next issue covering the quarter January - March 2017 will be available by end May 2017. Users can download this publication free of charge at the website of the C&SD (www.censtatd.gov.hk/hkstat/sub/sp200.jsp?productCode=B1050001).

     For enquiries about labour force statistics, please contact the Social Analysis and Research Section (2) of the C&SD (Tel: 2887 5508 or email: ghs@censtatd.gov.hk).
Ends/Friday, April 21, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:30
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