Published: 17:29, May 20, 2021 | Updated: 22:53, May 20, 2021
HK jobless rate drops for second month on better economy
By Bloomberg

People use their smartphones along the Victoria Harbour waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui district in Hong Kong, China, July 7, 2020. (PHOTO / BLOOMBERG)

Hong Kong's job market improved for a second straight month in April as the COVID-19 pandemic receded and the city's economy gradually recovered.

However, the labor market will take time to show a more visible recovery as the business receipts of many labor-intensive sectors are still far below pre-recession levels.

The city’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased from 6.8 percent for January through March to 6.4 percent for February through April

The city’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased from 6.8 percent for January through March to 6.4 percent for February through April. The underemployment rate also decreased from 3.8 percent to 3.3 percent for the same period, according to Census and Statistics Department data released on Thursday.

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Hong Kong is showing increasing signs of rebounding from its unprecedented two-year recession, posting its fastest growth since 2010 in the first quarter with a revised 7.9 percent year-on-year jump. Officials also maintained their full-year projection for growth in the 3.5 percent to 5.5 percent range.

 “If the local epidemic remains well-contained, the pressure on the labor market will gradually ease in the period ahead,” Secretary for Labor and Welfare Law Chi-kwong noted. “To create more favorable conditions for the revival of consumer-facing and tourism-related activities, it is essential for the community to work together to keep the epidemic under control and actively participate in the COVID-19 vaccination program.”

Decreases in unemployment were mainly seen in the construction sector; and retail, accommodation and food services sector. As to the underemployment rate, decreases were mainly observed in the construction sector; retail, accommodation and food services sector; transportation sector; and arts, entertainment and recreation sector.

There were 247,500 people unemployed while the number of underemployed persons stood at 126,600.

The city’s unemployment rate spiked to a 17-year high of 7.2 percent from December 2020 through February 2021.

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“Given the slow vaccine rollout across Asia, (a) full and safe border reopening looks unlikely at least in the first half of this year, (so) the tourism-related and transportation sectors may remain in the doldrums in the near term,” cautioned Carie Li Ruofan, an economist at OCBC Wing Hang Bank. She said the city’s unemployment rate may have peaked and will fall gradually toward 5 percent this year.

The Labor Department will organize large-scale job fairs on June 1 and 2, at which it has invited 45 employers, offering many job vacancies in different industries.

With Bloomberg inputs