Hong Kong's labour market remained stable amid a volatile global economy with the once risky US fiscal cliff and the continuous Euro zone debt crisis.
Most of the surveyed sectors expressed positive sentiment on their hiring for Q4 2012. The latest labour market data was revealed in the Quarterly Survey on Manpower Statistics – Third Quarter 2012 conducted by the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management (HKIHRM).
According to government data, Hong Kong’s economy continued to grow slowly. In the first three quarters of 2012, the city’s gross domestic product (GDP) recorded a year-on-year growth of 0.7%, 1.2% and 1.3% respectively.
"With a faster development pace of some sectors such as construction, tourism and retail, the labour market still managed to perform satisfactorily," says Francis Mok, President of the HKIHRM. "The unemployment rate had been staying at a relatively low level between 3.2% and 3.4% for most of the time last year."
The Institute’s survey also showed that there was no significant change in staff turnover and job vacancy rates in the first three quarters of 2012.
In Q3 2012, the construction and retail sectors reported relatively higher staff turnover and job vacancy rates. "Manpower planning and talent management strategies of these sectors maybe more challenging this year,” notes Mok.
Highest Turnover Rate
The top three sectors with the highest turnover rate were retail (10.6%); other business activities (9.0%); and construction/property development/real estate (7.4%).
In terms of employee level, clerical/frontline staff recorded the highest turnover rate (5.7%, a continuous trend since Q2 2007).
The top three sectors with the highest vacancy rate were community/social/personal services (10.3%); construction/property development/real estate (6.0%); and retail (5.8%).
In terms of employee level, clerical/frontline staff recorded the highest vacancy rate at 4.0%.
The net growth in new positions during Q3 2012 was 1.7% (weighted average), 0.8 percentage point higher than Q2 2012 (0.9%) and 0.3 percentage point higher than Q3 2011 (1.4%).
The top three sectors with the highest net growth in job positions were construction/property development/real estate (10.8%); other business activities (2.3%); and retail (1.9%). In terms of employee level, clerical/frontline staff recorded the highest position growth rate (2.3%).
Among the 107 participating companies, 73 companies provided data on staff absence. In the survey, “absence” is defined as unscheduled absences of one or more than one day including sick leave (paid or no paid), emergency leave and casual leave.
The absence rate in Q3 2012 was 2.5% (weighted average), 0.8 percentage point higher than Q2 2012 (1.7%).
The top three sectors with the highest absence rate were transport/services allied to transport (storage) (4.0%); community/social/personal services (2.5%); and manufacturing and other business activities (both at 2.2%).
In terms of employee level, the clerical/frontline staff recorded the highest absence rate (1.5%, a continuous trend since Q3 2009).
Among the 107 participating companies, 91 companies provided data on their hiring intentions for Q4 2012.
The top five sectors reporting strongest intentions to increase hiring are restaurant/catering (50%); diversified conglomerates (50%); community/social/personal services (40%); other business activities (37.5%); and construction/property development/real estate (28.6%).
“The labour market was stable in 2012. If economic uncertainties in the global aspect continue in 2013, employers in externally-oriented sectors such as wholesale, import/export, trading, distribution, financial services and banking, and manufacturing may have to be better prepared for more turbulent economic prospects," says Mok.
Fortunately, Mok adds, these negative effects may be partly offset by better economic performance of the Mainland recently, such as GDP growth, rising managers’ purchasing index and higher industrial output.
"Looking ahead, we expect no apparent change in Hong Kong’s labour market landscape if there is no serious challenge or crisis affecting the global economy,” notes Mok.