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Unemployment and underemployment statistics for January - March 2022
     According to the latest labour force statistics (i.e. provisional figures for January - March 2022) released today (April 21) by the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD), the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased from 4.5% in December 2021 - February 2022 to 5.0% in January - March 2022. The underemployment rate also increased from 2.3% in December 2021 - February 2022 to 3.1% in January - March 2022.
     Comparing January - March 2022 with December 2021 - February 2022, almost all major economic sectors saw an increase in both the unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) and underemployment rate. For the unemployment rate, more distinct increases were observed in the construction sector; retail, accommodation and food services sector; and arts, entertainment and recreation sector. As to the underemployment rate, increases were mainly seen in the food and beverage service activities; and arts, entertainment and recreation sector.
     Total employment decreased by around 54 000 from 3 664 500 in December 2021 - February 2022 to 3 610 500 in January - March 2022. Over the same period, the labour force also decreased by around 27 100 from 3 826 100 to 3 799 000.
     The number of unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) increased by around 26 900 from 161 600 in December 2021 - February 2022 to 188 500 in January - March 2022. Over the same period, the number of underemployed persons also increased by around 27 800 from 89 200 to 117 000.
     Commenting on the latest unemployment figures, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Dr Law Chi-kwong, said, "The labour market was under severe pressure amid the fifth wave of local epidemic. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose by 0.5 percentage point from 4.5% in December 2021 - February 2022 to 5.0% in January - March 2022. The underemployment rate also increased by 0.8 percentage point to 3.1%. Total employment fell by 54 000 from the preceding three-month period to 3 610 500, and the number of unemployed persons increased by 26 900 to 188 500."
     Analysed by sector, the unemployment rate of the consumption- and tourism-related sectors (viz. retail, accommodation and food services sectors) combined increased by 1.8 percentage points over the preceding three-month period to 8.9% in January - March 2022. Among these sectors, the unemployment rate of the food and beverage service activities sector increased by 2.6 percentage points to 11.0%, and that of the retail sector by 1.4 percentage points to 7.7%. Meanwhile, the unemployment rates of the construction sector and the arts, entertainment and recreation sector increased by 1.6 and 2.9 percentage points to 8.0% and 11.3% respectively. The unemployment rates of most other sectors also increased.
     Looking ahead, Dr Law said, "While the labour market will still be subject to pressure in the near term, with the easing local epidemic situation of late, together with the launch of a new round of consumption vouchers, the business of the consumption-related sectors should gradually improve and thus support employment in these sectors. Besides, the Government has been rolling out various relief measures, including the forthcoming 2022 Employment Support Scheme, to support enterprises and help keep workers in employment. It is essential for the community to work in unison to support the Government to put the local epidemic under control as swiftly as possible. The Government will continue to monitor the situation closely."
     In January - March 2022, the Labour Department (LD) recorded a monthly average of 59 747 vacancies from the private sector, representing a year-on-year decrease of 2.8% while a drop of 20.5% over the average figure in December 2021 - February 2022. Job-seekers may make use of the LD's online platforms such as the Interactive Employment Service website for obtaining such vacancy information.
Further information
     The unemployment and underemployment statistics were compiled from the findings of the continuous General Household Survey (GHS).
     Based on the latest population benchmark from the results of the 2021 Population Census released on February 28, 2022, the C&SD has revised the population figures for periods after mid-2016. Following the usual practice, the labour force statistics for previous periods since May - July 2016 have also been revised to incorporate the revised population figures. The labour force statistics released from this round (January - March 2022) onwards pertain to the newly revised series. The whole series of revised labour force statistics can be found on the website of the C&SD (www.censtatd.gov.hk/en/scode200.html).
     In the survey, the definitions used in measuring employment and unemployment follow closely those recommended by the International Labour Organization. The employed population covers all employers, self-employed persons, employees (including full-time, part-time, casual workers, etc.) and unpaid family workers. Generally speaking, the unemployed population refers to persons who have not had a job or performed any work for pay or profit, have been available for work, and have sought work. Unemployed persons by industry (or occupation) are classified according to their previous industry (or occupation).
     The classification of occupation used in the GHS to classify the occupation of an employed person or the previous occupation of an unemployed person is broadly modelled on the International Standard Classification of Occupations 2008 (ISCO-08). The occupation classification scheme has been enhanced from this round to follow the ISCO-08 more closely, with statistics backcasted to the quarter of January to March 2016 to facilitate comparison. Starting from the reference quarter of January to March 2016, all the labour force statistics by occupation, unless otherwise specified, are compiled based on the revised occupation classification scheme.
     The survey for January - March 2022 covered a sample of some 25 000 households or 70 000 persons, selected in accordance with a scientifically designed sampling scheme to represent the population of Hong Kong. Labour force statistics compiled from this sample represented the situation in the moving three-month period of January to March 2022.
     Data on labour force characteristics were obtained from the survey by interviewing each member aged 15 or over in the sampled households.
     Statistical tables on the latest labour force statistics can be downloaded at the website of the C&SD (www.censtatd.gov.hk/en/EIndexbySubject.html?pcode=D5250021&scode=200). More detailed analysis of the 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 2021 while the next issue covering the quarter January - March 2022 will be available by end May 2022. Users can also download this publication at the website of the C&SD (www.censtatd.gov.hk/en/EIndexbySubject.html?pcode=B1050001&scode=200).
     For enquiries about labour force statistics, please contact the Household Statistics Analysis Section of the C&SD (Tel: 2887 5508 or email: ghs@censtatd.gov.hk).
Ends/Thursday, April 21, 2022
Issued at HKT 16:30
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