Jobless rate hits 7.2%

March 16, 2021

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose by 0.2 percentage point to 7.2%, the highest since 2004, for the period between December and February compared to the period from November to January, the Census & Statistics Department announced today.


The underemployment rate also increased by 0.2 percentage point to a post-SARS high of 4% during the period.


Total employment decreased by about 20,500 to 3,610,100 while the labour force fell by about 12,300 to 3,871,700.


There were 261,600 unemployed people from December to February, an increase of around 8,300 from the preceding three-month period. The number of underemployed people also went up by about 6,400 to 154,600.


Secretary for Labour & Welfare Dr Law Chi-kwong pointed out that the labour market was still under notable pressure during the period. However, the situation began to stabilise in the latter part of the three-month period as the COVID-19 epidemic improved.


Analysed by sector, the unemployment rate of the consumption and tourism-related sectors, including retail, accommodation and food services, stayed elevated at 11.1%. However, the figure was 0.2 percentage point lower than the preceding three-month period.


Among these sectors, the unemployment rate for food and beverage service activities declined from 14.7% to 14.1%, while that of the retail sector rose from 8.9% to 9.1%.


Dr Law also noted that the unemployment situation in most other sectors deteriorated, particularly in import and export trade, postal and courier activities, education, and arts, entertainment and recreation.


Looking ahead, he said: "The labour market will still face challenges in the near term as the epidemic has yet to be fully contained and inbound tourism remains frozen.


"With the launch of the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, the threat of the epidemic may gradually recede and this will help ease the pressure on the labour market later in the year."


The Government will continue to monitor the situation closely, he added.

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