The unemployment rate in Hong Kong stays at 5.2 percent for the period from December 2005 to February 2006, Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) said yesterday.
Even as the latest jobless rate remains low for the second consecutive period, it is still regarded high by Hong Kong's standards. But given that a booming economy will stimulate the employment growth, many analysts expected that the unemployment rate would keep falling down to 5 percent and below in the coming months.
"Domestic market is doing well and I am optimistic. The jobless rate will drop slowly below 5 percent by the end of the year," said Paul Tang, senior economist from Bank of East Asia.
Booming businesses such as restaurants, medical services, wholesale trade and transport sectors contributed to a decrease in the unemployment rate, and an increase in the unemployment rate was mainly seen in the construction and sanitary services sectors.
What surprised most people was that the total employment decreased by about 13,000 from 3,424,000 to 3,411,000 over the previous period.
"Employment did not pick up in February probably because the property market was still sluggish after the Chinese Lunar New Year and some companies and retailers were letting staff go after the peak season," said Henry Tsoi, Hang Seng Bank's senior economist.
Joe Lo, senior economist of Citigroup, said that the decline in the employment market was mostly because of real estate and property sectors.
C&SD also announced the underemployment rate yesterday, recording a 0.1 percent decline from 2.4 percent in November-January period to 2.3 percent in December-February period.
The decrease was mainly attributed to businesses such as decoration and maintenance, transport and personal services sectors, according to C&SD.
The unemployment and underemployment figures were collected and compiled based on the findings of a continuous household survey. About 24,000 household or 75,000 persons, chosen according to a scientifically designed sampling scheme to represent the population of Hong Kong, participated in the survey for December-February period.
(China Daily HK Edition March 17, 2006)