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Labour Force and Unemployment

Statistics on labour force, unemployment and underemployment are compiled based on data obtained from the General Household Survey.

The labour force refers to the land-based non-institutional population aged 15 and over who satisfy the criteria for inclusion in the employed population or the unemployed population. The labour force participation rate refers to the proportion of labour force in the land-based non-institutional population aged 15 and over.

The employed population consists of persons aged 15 and over who have been at work for pay or profit during the 7 days before enumeration or who have had formal job attachment.

The unemployed population comprises all those persons aged 15 and over who fulfil the following conditions :

  1. have not had a job and have not performed any work for pay or profit during the 7 days before enumeration; and
  2. have been available for work during the 7 days before enumeration; and
  3. have sought work during the 30 days before enumeration.

However, if a person aged 15 or over fulfils the conditions (a) and (b) above but has not sought work during the 30 days before enumeration because he/she believed that work was not available, he/she is still classified as unemployed, being regarded as a so-called "discouraged worker".


Notwithstanding the above, the following types of persons are also classified as unemployed :

  1. persons without a job, have sought work but have not been available for work because of temporary sickness; and
  2. persons without a job, have been available for work but have not sought work because they:
    1. have made arrangements to take up a new job or to start business on a subsequent date; or
    2. were expecting to return to their original jobs.

The unemployment rate refers to the proportion of unemployed persons in the labour force. Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates are compiled for making comparison over time. Starting from May 2008, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is compiled by the X-12 ARIMA method to replace the previous X-11 ARIMA method. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rates since November 2006 - January 2007 have also been  revised  using  the new method. X-12 ARIMA method is an update to the X-11 ARIMA method with enhanced modelling and diagnostic capabilities. The X-12 ARIMA method has now been a standard method used by statistical offices for performing seasonal adjustment of statistical series in many countries/territories.

The underemployed population comprises those employed persons who have involuntarily worked less than 35 hours during the 7 days before enumeration and have sought additional work during the 30 days before enumeration, or have not sought additional work but have been available for additional work during the 7 days before enumeration. Following this definition, employed persons taking no-pay leave due to slack work during the 7 days before enumeration are also classified as underemployed if they worked less than 35 hours (or even did not work at all) during the 7-day period. The underemployment rate refers to the proportion of underemployed persons in the labour force.

The labour force statistics are subject to routine revision arising from :

  1. Routine revision to population estimates --- under the "resident population" approach, all population estimates in a given year can only be finalized in August of the following year.
  2. Routine revision to seasonal factors compiled using the X-12 ARIMA method --- the series of seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in respect of all moving three-month periods in a given calendar year is subject to routine revision later, when the finalized labour force statistics for all moving three-month periods in that year are available to enable re-estimation of the final seasonal factors.

Glossary of Terms

Term
Definition
Casual employee
Casual employee refers to an employee who is employed by an employer on a day-to-day basis or for a fixed period of less than 60 days at the time of enumeration.
Displaced worker
Displaced worker refers to a person aged 17 and over who, during the 12 months before enumeration, has left a job in which he/she has worked as an employee for two years or more owing to the following reasons :
(a) company closing down; or
(b) employer moving operations to the mainland of China or other countries/territories; or
(c) post abolished; or
(d) slack work in company; or
(e) employer unilaterally varying the terms of employment contract; or
(f) employer failing/deferring to pay wages; or
(g) dismissal.
Employed persons
Employed persons refer to those persons aged 15 and over who have been at work for pay or profit during the 7 days before enumeration or have had formal job attachment. Unpaid family workers and persons who were on leave/holiday during the seven days before enumeration are included.
Entrant into labour force
Entrant into the labour force refers to a person who is economically active at the time of enumeration and was in Hong Kong but economically inactive a year ago.
Hours of work
Hours of work refer to the number of hours which an employed person actually worked in all employment during the 7 days before enumeration. All paid and unpaid hours worked at the place of work are included, but meal breaks are excluded.
Industry
An industry refers to the set of all business units engaged primarily in the same or similar kinds of economic activity. The industry classification follows the Hong Kong Standard Industrial Classification Version 2.0 (HSIC V2.0), which is modelled on the United Nations’ International Standard Industrial Classification (Revision 4) (ISIC Rev. 4), with adaptation for the industrial structure of the local economy.
Job-changer
Job-changer refers to a person aged 15 and over who is employed at the time of enumeration and has changed jobs in Hong Kong during the 12 months before enumeration.
Labour force
Labour force refers to the land-based non-institutional population aged 15 and over who satisfy the criteria for being classified as employed persons or unemployed persons.
Labour force participation rate (LFPR)
Labour force participation rate refers to the proportion of labour force in the total land-based non-institutional population aged 15 and over.
Leaver from labour force
Leaver from the labour force refers to a person aged 15 and over who is economically inactive at the time of enumeration and was in Hong Kong but economically active a year ago.
Monthly employment earnings
Monthly employment earnings refer to earnings from all jobs during the month before enumeration. For employees, earnings include wage and salary, bonus, commission, tips, housing allowance, overtime allowance, attendance allowance and other cash allowances. However, back pays are excluded. For employers and self-employed, earnings refer to amounts drawn from the self-owned enterprise for personal and household use. If information on the amounts drawn for personal and household use is not available, data on net earnings from business would be collected instead.
Monthly household income
Monthly household income refers to the total cash income (including earnings from all jobs and other cash incomes) received in the month before enumeration by all members of the household.
Occupation
Occupation refers to the kind of work, nature of duties and main task performed by a person in his/her main job. The classification used basically follows the major groups of the International Standard Classification of Occupations 2008, or ISCO 08 for abbreviation, with local adaptation for Hong Kong.
Owner-occupiers
Owner-occupiers refers to households which own the quarters they occupy.
Part-time employee
Part-time employee refers to an employee with his/her main employment at the time of enumeration fulfilling the following criteria :
(a) the number of usual days of work per week is less than 5 (for a person with a fixed number of working days per week); or
(b) the number of usual hours of work per working day is less than 6 (for a person with a fixed number of working days per week); or
(c) the number of usual hours of work per week is less than 30 (for a person without a fixed number of working days per week).
However, a person who usually works 24 hours per shift is excluded, regardless of the number of usual days of work per week.
Payroll
Payroll includes elements covered by wage rate (see relevant definition) as well as other irregular payments to workers such as non-guaranteed or discretionary cash bonuses and allowances (e.g. profit-sharing bonuses and long service bonuses), overtime payment and back-pay. Employers' contribution in respect of their employees paid to social security and pension schemes, and benefits received by employees under these schemes are excluded. Profits earned by proprietors and business partners, payments in kind (e.g. quarters provided by company), severance payments, termination payments and long service payments, pensions and payment to outworkers are also excluded.
Payroll per person engaged
Payroll per person engaged is derived by dividing the total payroll of the reference period by the corresponding total number of persons engaged.
Real index of payroll per person engaged
The Real Index of Payroll per Person Engaged is obtained by deflating the nominal index by the Composite Consumer Price Index to indicate changes in the purchasing power of labour earnings.
Underemployed persons
Underemployed persons refer to those employed persons who have involuntarily worked less than 35 hours during the 7 days before enumeration and either
(a) sought additional work during the 30 days before enumeration; or
(b) have been available for additional work during the 7 days before enumeration.
Following this definition, employed persons taking no-pay leave due to slack work during the 7 days before enumeration are also classified as underemployed if they worked less than 35 hours or were on leave even for the whole period during the 7-day period.
Underemployment rate
Underemployment rate refers to the proportion of underemployed persons in the labour force.
Unemployed persons
Unemployed persons refer to those persons aged 15 and over who fulfil the following conditions :
(a) Have not had a job and have not performed any work for pay or profit during the 7 days before enumeration;
(b) Have been available for work during the 7 days before enumeration; and
(c) Have sought work during the 30 days before enumeration.
However, if a person aged 15 or over fulfils the conditions (a) and (b) above but has not sought work during the 30 days before enumeration because he/she believes that work is not available, he/she is still classified as unemployed, being regarded as a so-called "discouraged worker".
Notwithstanding the above, the following types of persons are also classified as unemployed :
(a) persons without a job, have sought work but have not been available for work because of temporary sickness; and
(b) persons without a job, have been available for work but have not sought work because they :
(i) have made arrangements to take up a new job or to start business on a subsequent date; or
(ii) were expecting to return to their original jobs.
Unemployment rate
Unemployment rate refers to the proportion of unemployed persons in the labour force.