Hong Kong Job Market Hits Peak in September as Unemployment Rates Continue to Drop in Q3

Links International’s 2021 Q3 Hong Kong Job Market Index

Links’ Hong Kong Job Index (JOB:IN) provides data-based analysis of the Hong Kong job market based on a number of data sources including Hong Kong Labour Department statistics, HK job posting numbers and response rates in respect of a ‘basket’ of common commercial job types in Hong Kong.

Has the HK Job Market Hit its Peak for 2021?

The Hong Kong Job Market continued its growth into Q3 before peaking and levelling off in September.

Momentum from Q2’s strong growth helped push job postings to increase a further 4% in the first two months of Q3. The job market then plateaued in September. Although growth stalled, job postings are now at similar levels to 2019 pre-COVID market peaks.

Hong Kong’s Q2 GDP growth was at 7.6% and Q3 is forecasted to reach similar levels at around 7.7%. The strong economic performance has been mirrored in the growth of the job market. However, as we move into Q4, we can expect a job market seasonal drop due to candidates being more reluctant to move as they wait for their year-end bonuses.

Factors like the Delta Variant, China’s slowing growth, challenges in the property sector, and evolving monetary policies are creating more uncertainties, which could potentially impact the job market during the end of 2021 and in 2022 as employers could take a more cautious approach.  Despite these challenges, the controlled local epidemic situation coupled with the Consumption Voucher Scheme means that any major fluctuations in the job market, like in 2020, would be unlikely.

The HK job market grows in Q3 but levels off in September
Source: Links International Job Index

Admin & HR Outperforms Other Functions

Admin & HR was the only function to record positive growth for all three months of the quarter, increasing 7% in the first month before seeing another 8% rise in August.  Other functions saw very modest growths or declines of 0-3% for the quarter.

Job Posting Growth Percentage in Q3:

Job FunctionJulyAugustSeptember
Finance-2%5%-2%
Admin & HR7%8%1%
IT-2%3%-3%
Marketing & PR-4%4%1%
Sales0%1%2%
Source: Links International Job Index
Source: Links International Job Index

Unemployment Rate Drops by 1.3% as the Economy Improves

In the last edition of our Job Index, we were positive that unemployment rates would continue to improve due to the well-controlled local COVID-19 situation and job market rally in Q2. This was clearly reflected in the 1.3% overall drop in the latest 3 recorded periods.

PeriodUnemployment RatePercentage Increase from Previous Period
April – June5.5%-0.5%
May – July5.0%-0.5%
June – August4.7%-0.3%

For the June – August period, unemployment rates hit 4.7% a considerable improvement from the peak of 7.2% seen at the start of the year. In total there were around 187,700 unemployed people in June – August period, meaning that around 45,600 (19.5%) unemployed individuals have returned to the workforce since the March – May period.

Certain sectors are more affected than others due to COVID-19 hitting specific industries harder. However, most sectors saw unemployment rates fall significantly since Q2, which comes as great news for workers in HK. The manufacturing sector is the exception, as it was the only one to see unemployment rates increase from the preceding three periods, reaching the highs when COVID-19 first hit Hong Kong.

With the retail, accommodation, and food services sector improving, it is a good indication that the consumer market is making a strong rebound. The Consumer Voucher Scheme is likely to have a positive impact and help drive unemployment rates lower for the upcoming periods. As one of the worst affected industries by the pandemic, its improvement is a great sign that Hong Kong has navigated through the worst and that the economy is robust.

PeriodManufacturingConstructionImport/export trade and wholesaleRetail, accommodation and food servicesTransportation, postal and courier servicesProfessional and business servicesPublic administration
April – June6.9%8.9%4.7%8.5%5.9%4.2%2.7%
May – July7.0%8.1%4.2%7.6%5.4%3.9%2.4%
June – August7.0%7.4%4.0%7.4%4.9%3.7%2.2%
Source: censtatd.gov.hk

With the uncertainties brought around by the pandemic, many governments around Asia are introducing new regulations and schemes like Hong Kong’s Consumption Voucher Scheme. If you don’t want to miss out on any developments, read our quarterly APAC legislation update publication now!

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