Hong Kong will face unemployment woes for more than three years

Unemployment will plague Hong Kong for years ahead, and that it may take more than three years for the jobless rate to fall below 5%.
By: | February 24, 2021

Hong Kong’s secretary for labour and welfare Law Chi-kwong wrote in his blog, “The coronavirus has affected the world for a long time, and we cannot see an end to it.” 

The jobless rate in Hong Kong hit 7% in the three months ending last month – the highest in almost 17 years and 0.4 percentage points higher than that in the quarter ending last December. 

Law also wrote that the unemployment rate may not decrease at the same rate as that during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak given the severity and extent of the pandemic. 

At the height of the SARS outbreak in 2003, the city’s unemployment rate peaked at 8.5%, and did not drop to 5% until three years later in the second quarter of 2006. 

Also, the SARS outbreak lasted for only four months, resulting in 299 deaths in Hong Kong and 774 deaths globally.  In comparison, since the outbreak of the pandemic about a year ago, to date, there have been 197 deaths in Hong Kong and 2.46 million globally.  

“The unemployment situation in December has significantly worsened, thus the three-month average unemployment rate to be released next month would likely increase,” he said.  

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On a more positive note, he said January’s unemployment rate did not show signs of deterioration. Although the seasonally adjusted jobless rate from November to January was higher than the rate between October and December, this could only reflect that January’s jobless rate is higher than that of October’s, he said, according to The Standard.