In Focus
HR & EDUCATION | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Vaccination programme may ease labour market pressure: gov't

This comes as the jobless rate in Hong Kong rises to a new high.

Challenges to the labour market may persist as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect Hong Kong, the Labour Department said, noting situation may improve with the vaccination programme.

Hong Kong’s unemployment rate increased to 7.2% between December 2020 and February 2021, slightly higher than the 7% recorded in November 2020 to January 2021.

The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) reported total employment decreased by around 20,500 to 2.61 million in December 2020-February 2021 from 3.63 million. Over the same period, labour force dropped 12,300 to 3.87 million from 3.88 milion.

Labour and Welfare Secretary Law Chi-kwong said the unemployment rate recorded between November-January 2021 and December 2020-February 2021 were both the highest since 2004.

Law also said the recent increase in the unemployment rate was due to pressure to the labour market, noting that it started to stabilise in the latter part of the three-month period. The increase in November 2020-January 2021 was attributed to the fourth wave of COVID-19 outbreak in Hong Kong.

"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,” he said.

“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.

The government has so far inoculated 229,300 individuals as of 16 March, of whome 176,300 were given Sinova vaccine whilst 53,000 received BioNTech vaccine.

Further, unemployed persons increased by 8,300 to 261,600 from 253,300, whilst underemployed increased 6,400 to 154,600 from 148,200.

The C&SD noted major increases were observed across major economic sectors, particularly in the import and export trade sector, postal courier activities sector, education sector and arts, entertainment and recreation sector.

Increases in underemployment rate, which climbed to 4% from 3.8% within the same period, were largely seen in the retail sector, food and beverage service activities sector and arts, entertainment recreation sector.

Further, in light of the worsening job situation, the Labour Department will organize the Greater Bay Area Youth Employment Scheme Job Expo on 23-24 March 2021 at the MacPherson Stadium.

More than 30 employers are expected to join the large-scale job fair with a parallel virtual event.

The Labour Department recorded a total of 56,227 vacancies in February 2021, up 28.2% compared to January.

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