Hong Kong’s unemployment rate highest since 2004

Hong Kong’s jobless rate climbed to 7.2% in the December-to-February period, up 0.2 percentage points from the November-to-January period.
By: | March 18, 2021

This figure is the highest level in almost 17 years as the pandemic continues to place restrictions limiting tourism and commerce in the local economy, with the labour minister saying that the job market is still facing challenges. 

In the December-to-February period, more than 261,00 people were jobless, having increased by 8,300. Total employment fell by about 20,500 to 3.61 million people in February as the labour force also shrank to 3.87 million. 

In terms of sector, consumption- and tourism-related industries had an unemployment rate of 11.1% – a marginal fall of 0.2 percentage points. The food and beverage service sector also saw a fall in unemployment rate to 14.1%, but the retail and most other industries have deteriorated. 

The latest underemployment rate reached a post-SARS high of 4%. During the SARS outbreak in 2003, Hong Kong’s unemployment rate hit an all-time high of 8.5%.  

Commenting on the latest figures, secretary for labour and welfare Law Chi-kwong said the labour market remained under considerable pressure, though the situation seemed to have stabilised later in the period thanks to improvement in the local pandemic situation. 

READ: Hong Kong government rolls out HK$9.5 billion relief package

He said challenges remain in the near term due to the pandemic, but he is optimistic that the local COVID-19 vaccination programme would help to ease the pressure on the employment market later this year, according to RTHK.