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Labour Force and Unemployment
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 :
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 :
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 :
Hong Kong Standard Industrial Classification
Since March 2009, the industry breakdowns of employment statistics are based on the Hong Kong Standard Industrial Classification Version 2.0 (HSIC V2.0), which is modelled on the United Nations' International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities Revision 4 (ISIC Rev. 4), with adaptation for the industrial structure of the local economy. The series has been backcasted to the reference period of March 2000. Users may refer to the feature article entitled "Revision of the Hong Kong Standard Industrial Classification" published in the November 2008 issue of the Hong Kong Monthly Digest of Statistics for more details on the revision of HSIC.
Persons Engaged and Vacancies
Statistics on the number of establishments, persons engaged and vacancies serve as indicators of short-term changes in the local labour market. It should be noted that figures in the tables concerned are based mainly on the findings of the Quarterly Survey of Employment and Vacancies (SEV) and the Quarterly Employment Survey of Construction Sites (Site Survey), which does not cover some industries for operational difficulties.
Owing to the incomplete survey coverage in respect of some industry sections, figures for them and the total figures are not meant to represent the overall situation of these industry sections and the entire labour market respectively. This should be borne in mind when interpreting the respective figures.
For the non-construction industry sections covered by the SEV, the unit of enquiry is an establishment. An establishment is defined as an economic unit which engages, under a single ownership or control, in one or predominantly one kind of economic activity at a single physical location, e.g. an individual factory, workshop, retail shop or office. Where separate figures relating to different activities or different locations under the same management are not available, a combined return is accepted. In this case, the reporting unit is treated as an establishment. For the civil service, the unit of enquiry is a government bureau/department. For the Site Survey, the unit of enquiry is a construction site. A construction site is defined as a demarcated locality where one or more stages of construction work are being carried on.
For establishments outside the civil service, persons engaged include :
Civil servants refer to persons who are employed on civil service terms of appointment as at the survey reference date. Independent Commission Against Corruption officers, locally engaged staff working in the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices outside Hong Kong, and other government employees like Non-Civil Service Contract staff are excluded. A minor revision has been made on the statistical definition since the statistical month of June 1999, whereby judges and judicial officers in the Judiciary are excluded from the coverage of civil servants.
Manual workers at construction sites refer to skilled, semi-skilled and general workers working at those sites on the survey reference date. Manual workers are either directly employed by the main contractors, or being called upon by sub-contractors or gangers to work in the construction sites.
Vacancies refer to unfilled job openings which are immediately available, and for which active recruitment steps are being taken on the survey reference date. Civil service vacancies refer to the vacancies net of posts pending deletion and posts held by temporary staff or reserved for other staff. However, vacancies at construction sites include only those vacancies of manual workers.
Payroll and Wage
The following types of wages and earnings statistics are currently compiled from establishment statistical surveys : wage indices; indices of payroll per person engaged; salary indices; and distribution of monthly/hourly wages. The wage indices and indices of payroll per person engaged are compiled from the Labour Earnings Survey on a quarterly basis. The wage indices reflect changes in the price of labour for workers up to supervisory level while the indices of payroll per person engaged measure changes in average employment earnings of personnel at all levels. These statistics are useful for monitoring short-term changes in the labour market in respect of employers' labour costs. The salary indices are compiled from the Survey of Salaries and Employee Benefits – Managerial and Professional Employees (Excluding Top Management) on an annual basis, and reflect movements of salary rates of middle-level managerial and professional employees. Distributions of monthly and hourly wages are obtained from the Annual Earnings and Hours Survey. They are essential inputs for analyses related to Statutory Minimum Wage.
Payroll covers basic wages and salaries, bonuses and gratuities, commissions, allowances and cash payments in other forms paid directly to employees as well as other irregular payments to workers such as discretionary bonuses and overtime allowances. The nominal index of payroll per person engaged indicates the overall movement of average labour earnings. The real index of payroll per person engaged, obtained by deflating the nominal index by the Composite Consumer Price Index, indicates changes in the purchasing power of labour earnings.
Wage rate reflects the “price” of labour and refers to the amount of money paid for normal hours of work. It includes, apart from basic wages and salaries, cost-of-living allowance, meal allowance/benefit, commission and tips, good attendance bonus, shift allowance, guaranteed year-end bonus/payment, and other guaranteed bonuses and allowances. However, pay for overtime work is excluded. The nominal wage index measures the pure changes in wage rates unaffected by changes in industrial and occupational structure between two successive reference months. The real wage index, obtained by deflating the nominal wage index by the Consumer Price Index (A), indicates changes in the purchasing power of the amount of wages earned.
Salary rate is defined to include monthly basic salary, cost-of-living allowance, guaranteed year-end bonus/payment, commission and other regular and guaranteed bonuses and allowances. The Nominal Salary Index (A) measures the overall changes in average salary rates of middle-level managerial and professional employees. The Nominal Salary Index (B) measures changes in average salary rates of those middle-level managerial and professional employees who have been in the same occupation and in the same company in 2 consecutive years. It therefore only accounts for salary changes brought about by general increment, meritorious increase and gain in seniority. The Real Salary Index (A) and the Real Salary Index (B) are derived by deflating the respective nominal indices by the Consumer Price Index (C) and measure changes in the purchasing power of the amount of salaries earned.
Hourly wage and monthly wage distributions compiled from the Annual Earnings and Hours Survey follow the definition of wages as adopted in the Employment Ordinance. In brief, the following components are covered : (i) basic wage; (ii) commission and tips not of gratuitous nature; (iii) guaranteed bonuses and allowances other than end of year payment; and (iv) overtime allowance.
Glossary of Terms