Links International’s March 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.
Hong Kong Job Market flat between February and March despite coronavirus spread and market volatility
Significantly down year on year, the Hong Kong Job Market showed signs of recovery in the first 2 weeks of March, before the worsening Coronavirus situation and market volatility in late March offset initial gains, resulting in the job market being flat between February and March.
The hopes of a permanent recovery in the Hong Kong job market in the first 2 weeks of March were dampened by market volatility and the worsening Coronavirus situation. Weekly job postings increased by almost 5% in the first week of March, before decreasing by up to 2% in the later weeks.
While the Hong Kong job market has not been as strong as previous years, Hong Konger’s can count themselves relatively lucky that the job market continues to be resilient compared to the majority of countries being impacted by Coronavirus (for example, the US reported 10 million jobs being lost in 2 weeks).
Given the resilience of the job market during March despite challenging conditions, we are optimistic that the Hong Kong job market will increase in Q2, on the assumption that Asia based health experts predictions of the Coronavirus situation becoming increasingly under control towards the end of April holding true.
Demand for IT professionals most resilient, HR professionals worst impacted
After demand for talent across all job functions increased in early March between 2% – 7%, the worst impacted functions during the 2nd half of March were Human Resource and Administration roles, which decreased by up to 4% in the final week of March. In particular, demand for most junior HR roles including HR Officers and HR Executives was significantly adversely impacted.
IT continued to be the most resilient job function and was the only job function to not experience any negative growth during March. Sales and marketing roles still remained relatively strong, despite a minor fall of 1.8% in job postings during the final week of March.
11,800 Hong Konger’s lose their jobs between January and February as unemployment rate increases to 3.7%
The job market continued to move in the employers’ favour, as unemployment in Hong Kong continues to increase from the record low employment rates seen in 2019 of 2.2% to a provisional number of 3.7% in February 2020.
While the February unemployment rate in Hong Kong remains low compared to what is being forecast elsewhere around the world, due to the lockdown measures (for example, grim forecasts in the US of up to 30% unemployment), the Hong Kong unemployment rate is at its highest level since 2011 and expected to continue to increase. Supporting this we also saw an increase in the number of clients interested in outplacement services as they look into redundancies as a strategy to cut costs, particularly at senior positions in corporate support functions including HR and Marketing.
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