SOURCE / ECONOMY
Hong Kong's unemployment rate hits record high in over 15 years
Published: Jun 17, 2020 01:56 PM

People view the scenery in Hong Kong, south China, June 11, 2020. Hong Kong's unemployment rate increased to 5.9 percent in the period from March to May 2020, surpassing the peak in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis and hitting a record high in more than 15 years, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government said on Tuesday. (Xinhua/Li Gang)


Hong Kong's unemployment rate increased to 5.9 percent in the period from March to May 2020, surpassing the peak in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis and hitting a record high in more than 15 years, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government said on Tuesday.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased from 5.2 percent in February-April 2020 to 5.9 percent in March-May. The underemployment rate also increased from 3.1 percent to 3.5 percent, according to the latest labor force statistics released by the HKSAR government's Census and Statistics Department.

The unemployment rate has surpassed the peak of 5.5 percent in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis to reach the highest in more than 15 years, while the underemployment rate has hit the highest in close to 17 years, the HKSAR government's Secretary for Labor and Welfare Law Chi-kwong noted.

"The labor market showed further deterioration in March-May 2020 as a wide range of economic activities stayed in the doldrums," Law said, noting that the year-on-year declines in total employment and labor force widened further to 6.5 percent and 3.3 percent respectively, both the largest on record.

Comparing March-May with February-April, the unemployment rate increased across almost all the major economic sectors, while the increases of underemployment rate were mainly seen in the sectors of retail, transportation, and warehousing and support activities for transportation.

The unemployment rate of the consumption- and tourism-related sectors, viz. retail, accommodation and food services sectors, combined increased to 10.6 percent in March-May 2020, the highest since August-October 2003 after the onslaught of SARS, and the underemployment rate rose visibly to 6.3 percent, the highest on record, Law pointed out.

Looking ahead, Law said: "While the local epidemic situation has abated, it will take time for local economic activities to return to normal. The external environment also remains difficult as the pandemic continues to weigh on the global economy. Thus the labor market will still face pressure in the near term, yet the pace of deterioration may decelerate."

To preserve the vitality of the economy, the HKSAR government has rolled out relief measures of unprecedented scale, including a series of measures on job retention and job creation, he said. "These measures should help keep workers in employment. The government will monitor the situation closely." 
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