Unemployment hits 16-year high

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose by 0.3 percentage point to 6.6%, the highest in 16 years, for the period between October and December 2020 compared to the period from September to November, the Census & Statistics Department announced today.   The underemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.4% for the period.   Total employment decreased by 2,400 to 3,647,700, while the labour force stood at 3,893,400, about the same as in the previous period.   There were 245,800 unemployed people from October to December, an increase of 1,500 from the previous period. The number of underemployed people also increased by 700 to 133,800.              Secretary for Labour & Welfare Dr Law Chi-kwong said the labour market deteriorated again due to the fourth wave of the local epidemic which started in the latter part of November.   Analysed by sector, the unemployment rate of the consumption and tourism-related sectors, including retail, accommodation and food services, rebounded to 10.6%.   Among those sectors, the unemployment rate for food and beverage service activities rose to 13.8%. The unemployment rate in many other sectors also increased.   Looking ahead, Dr Law said: "As the fourth wave of local epidemic continues to weigh on local consumption sentiment and disrupt economic activities, the labour market will remain under notable pressure in the near term.”   The Government has rolled out measures to provide further support to hard-hit sectors and will continue to monitor the situation closely, he added.
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