Hong Kong Labour Market Slows Down in Q2 2011

The slackening job vacancy rate and position growth in Q2 2011, together with weaker hiring intentions for Q3 2011, indicate that the labour market is no longer vibrant amid poorer market sentiment, finds the Quarterly Survey on Manpower Statistics - Second Quarter 2011 conducted by the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management (HKIHRM).

 

A total of 87 companies participated in the Q2 2011 (Apr to Jun) survey conducted in July 2011, covering 87,119 employees. Key data obtained from the survey include hiring intentions, staff turnover, job vacancy, position growth/cut and staff absence rate.

 

“The survey results showed that the labour market in Q2 was not as active as in Q1 2011," says Francis Mok, President of the HKIHRM. "Besides, weaker hiring intentions among employers for Q3 2011 revealed that some employers had already adopted a prudent approach in manpower planning earlier this year."

 

Staff Turnover

The overall turnover rate for Q2 2011 was 4.3% (weighted average), 0.8 percentage points higher than Q1 2011 (3.5%) and 0.9 percentage points higher than Q2 2010 (3.4%).

 

The community/social/personal services sector recorded the highest turnover (7.5%, highest for two consecutive quarters), followed by retail (7%) and wholesale, import/export, trading, distribution (6.7%). In terms of employee level, the highest turnover rate was among the clerical/frontline level (5.6%, a continuous trend since Q2 2007).

 

Job Vacancy

The overall job vacancy rate for Q2 2011 was 5.2% (weighted average), same as that in Q1 2011 and 1.4 percentage points higher than Q2 2010 (3.8%).

 

The retail sector recorded the highest vacancy rate (8%), followed by engineering (6.9%) and community/social/personal services (5.8%). In terms of employee level, the highest vacancy rate was found in the clerical/frontline level (6.5%).

 

Position Growth/Cut

The net growth in new positions during Q2 2011 was 0.8%, 0.4 percentage points lower than Q1 2011 (1.2%) and 0.1 percentage points lower than Q2 2010 (0.9%).

 

The highest net growth in job positions was recorded in the business services/professional services business sector (4.9%, first time since Q3 2008), followed by construction/property development/real estate (1.6%) and financial services/banking/insurance (0.9%). In terms of employee level, the highest net growth was recorded in the supervisory/officers level (1.1%).

 
Absence Rate

Among the 87 participating companies, 60 companies provided data on staff absence. The absence rate in Q2 2011 was 1.7% (weighted average), 0.2 percentage points lower than Q1 2011 (1.9%). 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 community/social/personal services sector recorded the highest absence rate (3.2%), followed by engineering (2.6%) and business services/professional services (2.4%). In terms of employee level, the clerical/frontline level recorded the highest absence rate (2.0%). 

 
Hiring Intention in Q3 2011

All 87 companies provided data on their hiring intentions in Q3 2011. 21.8% companies intended to increase hiring (10.1 percentage points lower than that for Q2 2011) and 64.4% companies intended to remain hiring as of Q2 2011 (6.2 percentage points higher than that for Q2 2011). 12.7% intended to freeze hiring (3.9 percentage points higher than that for Q2 2011) and 1.1% intended to reduce hiring (same as that for Q2 2011).

 

The construction/property development/real estate sector recorded the highest hiring intentions (66.7%) among all sectors surveyed, followed by business services/professional services (42.9%) and electricity/gas/petrol (33.3%).

 

“According to the survey results, the pace of hiring has appeared to be slower than the last quarter. Considering the negative impact of uncertainties in the global economy and recent news on layoffs in the financial sector, employers may become more cautious while reviewing their manpower strategies which at present may be highly subject to concern about corporate sustainability in an economic downturn. Added to this is the pressure of inflation in operation costs. A forward-looking approach is needed to maintain corporate competitiveness,” concludes Mok.

 

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