Unemployment and underemployment statistics for September - November 2011
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     According to the latest labour force statistics released today (December 19) by the Census and Statistics Department, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased from 3.3% in August - October 2011 to 3.4% (provisional figure) in September - November 2011.  The underemployment rate fell from 1.6% in August - October 2011 to 1.5% (provisional figure) in September - November 2011.

     Comparing September - November 2011 with August - October 2011, increases in the unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) were mainly observed in the foundation and superstructure, and warehousing and support activities for transportation sectors.  As for the underemployment rate, decreases were mainly seen in the decoration, repair and maintenance for buildings as well as the food and beverage service activities sector.

     Total employment increased by around 11 000 from 3 640 100 in August - October 2011 to 3 651 100 (provisional figure) in September - November 2011.  Over the same period, the labour force also increased by around 7 100 from 3 765 200 to 3 772 300 (provisional figure).

     The number of unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) decreased by around 3 900 from 125 100 in August - October 2011 to 121 200 (provisional figure) in September - November 2011.  Over the same period, the number of underemployed persons decreased by around 2 700 from 58 800 to 56 100 (provisional figure).

Commentary

     The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose slightly by 0.1 percentage point from August - October 2011 to 3.4% in September - November 2011.  The underemployment rate went down by 0.1 percentage point to 1.5%.

     Commenting on the latest unemployment figures, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said, "Total employment rose by about 11 000 to reach a new record high of 3 651 100 in September - November 2011, partly because of a seasonal rise in labour demand towards the year-end.  On a seasonally adjusted basis, the unemployment rate increased slightly by 0.1 percentage point to 3.4%."

     On the short-term outlook, Mr Cheung said, "In face of a more uncertain external environment stemming from the evolving Eurozone sovereign debt crisis and fragile fundamentals of the advanced economies, employers generally tend to stay cautious towards recruitment.  Nevertheless, the prevailing strength of domestic demand and inbound tourism should render some cushion to upward pressure on the overall unemployment rate in the near term, especially with the seasonal surge in consumption in the run-up to Christmas and New Year.  We will continue to be vigilant and closely monitor development in the labour market."

     "Since the implementation of the statutory minimum wage, the number of  private sector vacancies recorded by the Labour Department has stayed at a high level of over 3 000 per working day on average.  This level has been maintained in December so far.  The Labour Department will keep up its efforts in providing comprehensive and free employment service to job-seekers," Mr Cheung added.

     In November 2011, the number of private sector vacancies recorded by the Labour Department increased by 20.3% from 85 716 in October 2011 to an all time high of 103 107, and a surge by 46.1% over 70 576 in the same period last year.

Further information

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

     The survey for September - November 2011 covered a sample of some 24 000 households or 72 000 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 current issue of the publication covering the quarter July - September 2011 is now available and the next issue covering the quarter October - December 2011 will be available in mid-March 2012.  Users can download this publication free of charge at the website of the Census and Statistics Department (www.censtatd.gov.hk/products_and_services/products/publications/statistical_report/labour/index.jsp).

     Enquiries for labour force statistics for September - November 2011 can be directed to the General Household Survey Section (2), Census and Statistics Department (Tel.: 2887 5508; Fax: 2508 1501; e-mail: ghs@censtatd.gov.hk).

Ends/Monday, December 19, 2011
Issued at HKT 16:42

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