Jobless rate rises to 5.4 percent, a 10-month high

Hong Kong’s unemployment rate climbed to a 10-month high of 5.4 percent, official data released on Thursday showed.

The latest jobless figure, covering February to April, spanned the peak of the Omicron wave of infections and the start of the phased easing of social distancing measures.

It was up from 5 percent in the January-to-March period.

Officials said employment weakened in almost all sectors in the three months ending April, with the decoration, repair and maintenance for buildings sector, as well as the retail, accommodation and food services sectors recording more distinct deterioration.

The underemployment rate also rose from 3.1 percent to 3.8 percent.

“The labour market deteriorated further in February – April 2022, but the situation showed some stabilisation in the latter part of the period in tandem with the receding local epidemic and revival of local economic activities,” said labour secretary Law Chi-kwong.

A recruitment agency also said hiring activities picked up across all sectors in April, with many companies proactively hiring staff.

“Functions including technology, finance and accounting, financial services, as well as legal… these are all teams that we see stronger activities across the board,” said Olga Yung, managing director of Michael Page Hong Kong.

But she pointed out that the retail sector, among the hardest hit by the pandemic, has been seeing a slower pace of recovery.

Yung also said people from overseas are interested in working here. “We also see more overseas candidates looking to move to Hong Kong as well. That’s also very good, as opposed to the perception that everyone’s trying to leave Hong Kong and there’s no way overseas candidates would be interested to move here.”