Hong Kong’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.1 per cent in June to August, the latest government statistics have shown, as around 161,900 people remain jobless.

The number of unemployed Hongkongers declined by around 6,300 in June to August compared to 168,200 in May to July, the Census and Statistics Department announced on Monday. The figure marked a 0.2 percentage point decrease in the city’s jobless rate, which stood at 4.3 per cent during the May to July period.

central finance business people population economy employment
Central district in Hong Kong. Photo: GovHK.

Total employment in Hong Kong rose over the same period from 3,593,100 to 3,609,300, as the labour force expanded from 3,761,300 to 3,771,200.The number underemployed citizens also fell from 84,300 to 76,400.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Chris Sun said on Monday that Hong Kong’s labour market continued to improve as domestic activities were revived amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The improvement was partly supported by the second phase of the government’s consumption voucher scheme which backed local consumption demand, the official said.

Sun predicted that the labour market would see further improvements in the near term, but it may be constrained by “recent tightened financial conditions.” It could also be affected by the development of the pandemic, which may “have bearings” on economic activities.

covid-19 social distancing sport exercise
A banner in Hong Kong reminding people to practice social distancing amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: GovHK.

“It is therefore crucial for the community to continue to work in unison with the Government to bring the epidemic under control,” Sun said in a press statement.

Hong Kong logged 6,260 new Covid-19 infections on Monday, the lowest daily caseload since mid-August. Financial Secretary Paul Chan said last Sunday that the city could see a fiscal deficit of more than HK$100 billion as the pandemic continued to batter the economy. The estimate would mark the second-ever highest shortfall, following a deficit of HK$232.5 billion recorded in 2020.

Also on Monday, the Social Welfare Department reported a 0.3 per cent drop in the overall Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) cases in August compared with the previous month.

The total caseload under the welfare programme stood at 210,367 at the end of August, with a total of 296,887 people receiving financial assistance.

The department said the average number of CSSA applications for unemployment cases in June to August was 484 each month, which declined by 3.2 per cent compared to the figure in May to July.

Other claimants – including those with low-earnings, single parents, old age and permanent disability cases – all registered month-to-month decreases. But cases in relation to ill-health rose by 0.7 per cent to 27,202.

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Ho Long Sze Kelly is a Hong Kong-based journalist covering politics, criminal justice, human rights, social welfare and education. As a Senior Reporter at Hong Kong Free Press, she has covered the aftermath of the 2019 extradition bill protests and the Covid-19 pandemic extensively, as well as documented the transformation of her home city under the Beijing-imposed national security law.

Kelly has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration. Prior to joining HKFP in 2020, she was on the frontlines covering the 2019 citywide unrest for South China Morning Post’s Young Post. She also covered sports and youth-related issues.