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Unemployment rate steady at 3.5%

June 16, 2011
The unemployment rate in March-May stood at 3.5%, equalling February-April, while the underemployment rate stayed at 1.9%, Secretary for Labour & Welfare Matthew Cheung says.
Decreases in the unemployment rate were mainly observed in the wholesale, foundation and superstructure, as well as manufacturing sectors, while increases were more apparent in the decoration, repair and maintenance for buildings, warehousing and support activities for transportation, and food and beverage service activities sectors.
As to the underemployment rate, decreases were mainly seen in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector, offsetting increases in the decoration, repair and maintenance for buildings sector.
Mr Cheung said: "Owing to strong economic growth and continued job generation, total employment increased notably further by about 15,000 to an all-time high of 3,600,500 in March-May.”
Over the same period, the labour force grew by 17,800 to 3,735,300. The new jobs created helped to absorb most of the additional workforce.
“In the next few months a new batch of fresh graduates and school leavers will enter the labour market. Together with job-seekers induced by the recent implementation of the statutory minimum wage, this will pose pressure on the unemployment rate.”
However, with the buoyant economy and positive hiring sentiment, labour demand is expected to remain firm in the near term. This should help cushion the impact arising from the increasing labour supply, Mr Cheung added.
He also said that since April last year, the number of new private-sector vacancies received by the Labour Department has stayed at a high level of about 3,000 per working day on average. This level has been maintained so far this month.
In May this year, the number of private-sector vacancies the Labour Department posted rose 12.3% to 65,943, up 7.9%, compared to the same period last year.
The number of successful placements rose 4.6% to 14,091, up 13.5% when compared to the same period last year.

statutory minimum wage