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Fall in the number of tourists and depreciation in RMB has led to a slight increase in Hong Kong’s unemployment figures.
According to the latest labour force statistics released by Census and Statistics Department yesterday, the city-stat’s unemployment rate increased from 3.2% in April – June 2015 to 3.3% in May – July 2015.
The underemployment rate remained, however, unchanged at 1.4% in the two periods.
Commenting on the latest unemployment figures, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Matthew Cheung Kin Chung, said an unemployment rate of 3.3% is still at a low level but with a unsteady global financial market and decrease in number of tourist, the situation may get worse.
The hospitality and retail industries were identified as sectors contributing to this latest rise in unemployment rate.
The hospitality sector’s unemployment rate stood at 4.4% – a 1.4% year on increase, while the retail sector saw a 0.1 % increase in unemployment compared to April – June 2015.
Unemployment rate in the retail sector stood at 4.1%.
Shedding light into the matter, managing director of AMAC Human Resources Consultants Limited Alexa Chow Yee Ping said the retail sector is currently on hiring freeze.
“Resigned staff will not be replaced, it will be a quiet market until Christmas,” she said.
The insurance industry was also found to have recorded a 0.4% increase in unemployment rate to 1.9% in July.
Roy Cheung Wai Leung from the Hong Kong Insurance Practitioners General Union said high office rent has out insurance companies under a lot of pressure to cut manpower.
“Take Kwun Tong for example, the rent of Grade-A offices in the area has increased from HK$11 per square feet five years ago to $25 now. Many companies need to save cost and lay off agents with underwhelming sales performance,” he said.
Economics academic professor Terence Chong executive director, institute of global economics and finance at The Chinese University of Hong Kong had a more positive view.
He said the end of European debt crisis implies less fluctuation in the stock market.
“The Hong Kong-Shenzhen stock through train which will take place soon will be a boost to the economy although I expect the employment market to remain weak in the forth quarter, the unemployment rate should go no higher than 3.5%,” he said.