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Unemployment in HK Bbegins to Move down

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Hong Kong declined from 8.7 percent in May-July period to 8.6 percent in June-August 2003, while the underemployment rate fell from 4.2 percent to 4 percent, according to a press release from Hong Kong's Census and Statistics Department on Thursday.


The press release quoted a government spokesman as saying that improved business conditions recently had helped to stabilize the unemployment rate and lower the underemployment rate.


The spokesman said that the strong pick-up in the tourism and related sectors aided the employment, upon the swift rebounding of the Chinese mainland visitors. He believed that an additional boost came from the "individual visit" scheme for facilitating Chinese mainland visitors to come to Hong Kong.


The spokesman pointed out that in addition to energizing the tourism sector, the introduction and expansion of the "individual visit" scheme for Chinese mainland visitors has helped create morejob opportunities for other sectors, notably the retail and catering industries.


He added that the construction industry, which has been badly hit by the recent downturn, would also benefit from the tourism boom. Some 50,000 hotel rooms are under various stages of design or construction, and should be ready for use by 2005. These projects would create some 10,900 construction-related jobs.


Meanwhiel, he siad, "An additional 2,000 construction jobs will come on stream when work starts in late 2004 on the International Exhibition Center at the Hong Kong International Airport."


Speaking of signs of improvement on the job market front, the spokesman said that the number of private sector vacancies registered with the Job Centers of the Labor Department continued on an upward trend.


Some 24,600 private sector vacancies were recorded by the Labor Department in August, representing a 13.3 percent increase over the previous month.


Drop in unemployment rate was seen mainly in the decoration and maintenance, restaurants, hotels, transport, manufacturing and financing sectors, according to the spokesman.


(Xinhua News Agency September 19, 2003)


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