Comparing January - March 2013 with December 2012 - February 2013, increases in the unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) were mainly observed in the cleaning and similar activities, and accommodation and food services sectors. As to the underemployment rate, increases were mainly seen in the postal and courier activities and construction sectors.
Total employment increased by around 8 200 from 3 712 000 in December 2012 - February 2013 to 3 720 200 in January - March 2013. Over the same period, the labour force also increased by around 17 600 from 3 835 100 to 3 852 700.
The number of unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) increased by around 9 400 from 123 100 in December 2012 - February 2013 to 132 500 in January - March 2013. Over the same period, the number of underemployed persons also increased by around 2 500 from 58 600 to 61 100.
Commenting on the latest unemployment figures, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said, "Labour demand held buoyant in the first quarter of 2013 and total employment rose further to a new record high of 3 720 200. Nevertheless, as the labour force likewise expanded by a larger extent, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate edged up by 0.1 percentage point to 3.5%."
On the short-term outlook, Mr Cheung said, "While the resilient domestic consumption and further growth of inbound tourism will continue to underpin labour demand, the employment situation going forward will hinge crucially on the overall economic growth and the capacity of the corporate sector to create jobs. Uncertainties in the external environment, including those stemming from the fluid European sovereign debt situation and the escalating geopolitical tensions, remain a cause of concern. We will stay vigilant and monitor development in the local labour market closely. The Labour Department will keep up its efforts in providing comprehensive employment service to job-seekers and enhance its employment service in relatively remote districts."
In March 2013, the number of private sector vacancies recorded by the Labour Department amounted to 108 743, up by 9.9% over 98 940 in the same period last year. The Labour Department will organise two large-scale job fairs in Tung Chung on May 15 and 16, and will continue to organise large-scale job fairs in different locations, canvassing vacancies from various industries for application by job-seekers on the spot.