Hong Kong's unemployment rate stood at 3.3% in the June to August 13 period, same as that in the May to July 2013, according to the latest labour force statistics released by the Census and Statistics Department. The underemployment rate also remained unchanged at 1.5% in the two periods.
"Thanks to the resilient domestic demand, the labour market performed well in June - August 2013 and was able to absorb nearly half of the increase in labour supply," says Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Matthew Cheung Kin-chung. "As a result, total employment grew further to another record high. After discounting for seasonal factors, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stayed low at 3.3%."
On the short-term outlook, Cheung said the Hong Kong economy will likely see further moderate growth. With the students on summer jobs gradually returning to school as well as the largely positive hiring sentiment in the corporate sector, the labour market is expected to remain stable in the near term.
However, external uncertainties, in particular the pace of the US monetary policy adjustment down the road and its ensuing impact on global fund flows direction and regional economies, remain a cause of concern.
Cheung says the Labour Department will keep up its efforts in providing comprehensive employment service to job-seekers and enhance its employment service in relatively remote districts.
"In August 2013, the number of private sector vacancies recorded by the Labour Department increased by 4.4% from 108 633 in the previous month to 113 371, and up by 3.8% over 109 273 in the same period last year," adds Cheung.
Comparing the two periods , increases in the unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) were mainly observed in the education, and warehousing and support activities for transportation sectors, while decreases were mainly seen in the construction and retail sectors.
As to the underemployment rate, an increase was mainly observed in the decoration, repair and maintenance for buildings sector, while a decrease was mainly seen in the import and export trade sector.
Total employment increased by around 1 700 from 3 749 500 in May - July 2013 to 3 751 200 in June - August 2013. Over the same period, the labour force also increased by around 3 600 from 3 883 500 to 3 887 100.
The number of unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) increased by around 1 800 from 134 000 in May - July 2013 to 135 800 in June - August 2013. The number of underemployed persons in June - August 2013 was 58 400, about the same as 58 800 in May - July 2013.
"Hong Kong's employment statistics remain flat and this should worry employers at multiple human resource and economic levels," comments Randstad Hong Kong's general manager and director, Peter Yu.
Yu says that the tight labour market directly impacts companies' abilities to fill graduate training programmes, increases leadership and management change, affects growth planning, competitiveness and more.
"While many employers often try and fill positions from Hong Kong's local talent pool, there is now a lack of readily-available talent - meaning that workforce productivity can be dramatically affected until the position is filled. Of course, the situation is greatly improved by companies that have a strong employer brand and who continue to invest in their human capital to attract and most importantly, retain, talent in today's tight and competitive labour market."