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Hong Kong’s jobless rate may rise on weakness in the global economy and more graduates and school leavers seeking work, the government said, even as the latest data showed resilience in the labor market.
“The Hong Kong economy can hardly stay unscathed,” the Financial Secretary’s Office said in an e-mailed response to questions from Bloomberg News, citing Europe’s debt crisis and the fragility of major advanced economies.
The jobless rate for the three months through June was unchanged at a seasonally adjusted 3.2 percent, the government said on its website today. That was less than the 3.3 percent median forecast of six economists in a Bloomberg News survey and compares with a rate of as much as 5.5 percent during the global financial crisis.
“As the economy is slowing this year, it is likely that the job market will follow suit,” said Joanne Yim, an economist at Hang Seng Bank Ltd. (11) in Hong Kong, forecasting an increase to a 4 percent jobless rate by year-end.
Hong Kong stocks rose on speculation China will take more action to boost growth and after U.S. housing starts jumped to the highest since 2008. The Hang Seng Index (HSI) advanced 1.7 percent.
The Financial Secretary’s Office cited a looming influx of graduates and school leavers as also causing “upside risks” for the unemployment rate.
An increased jobless rate would add to pressure on Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who took office July 1 and faces public concern over housing costs, the gap between rich and poor, and the conduct of public officials.
His development secretary resigned after the Apple Daily reported he had misused government housing allowances. Democratic Party lawmaker Albert Ho has asked a court to rule that Leung’s election was invalid, saying that he misled the public about illegal structures built at his home.
Tourist spending, domestic demand and infrastructure projects have helped the city to maintain almost full employment, the Financial Secretary’s Office said.
For now, job seekers are optimistic.
“I’m not too worried about not being able to find a job,” said Sally Chu, 40, who was at a government job center in Wanchai this week, looking for work as a domestic helper. “I have a couple of offers already but I’m waiting for an offer with better pay and working conditions.”
Echoing that view was Samuel Fung, 32, who wants a job as an accounting clerk that pays more than HK$13,000 ($1,676) a month. “There are a lot of job vacancies and it is not hard to get an offer,” he said.
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