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Hong Kong Jobless Rate Remains at 6.7 Percent

Hong Kong's unemployment and underemployment rates for September to November remained at 6.7 percent and 3.2 percent, according to a government report Thursday.


The number of employed, however, surged 9,700 to a historic high of 3.308 million and the total labor force increased by 5,400 to 3.544 million. The number of unemployed people dipped 4,300 to 236,000, while the number of underemployed people increased slightly by 1,000 to 113,000, added the Census and Statistics Department.


Decreases in the unemployment rate were mainly seen in the transport and education services sectors, while increases were more apparent in business services, welfare and community services, and sanitary services.


As to the underemployment rate, decreases were concentrated in the decoration and maintenance, and welfare and community services sectors, offsetting the increases seen in the transport, business services, and amusement and recreational services sectors.


The labor market sentiment remained generally buoyant, with the number of vacancies received by the Labor Department in November at 29,260, a robust growth of 55.3 percent over a year earlier and 8.7 percent over October.


The department also helped place 8,131 job-seekers into jobs, the second highest record.


Meanwhile tourism continued to boom, with about 4.4 million Mainland tourists visiting Hong Kong under the Individual Visit Scheme and the return of long-haul visitors in recent months.


With inbound tourism staying vibrant, local consumption demand has continued to hold up well. For the first 10 months of this year, retail sales increased 11.4 percent in value over a year earlier. The growth in retail business, in particular in the sales of consumer durables, is also a clear reflection of better consumer sentiment amid economic upturn and improved labor market conditions.


(Xinhua News Agency December 17, 2004)


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