Links Job Index: Is the Hong Kong Job Market Bouncing Back in March?

Links International’s February Hong Kong Job Market Index

Links’ Hong Kong Job Index (JOB:EX) 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 recovering after 11% Drop in Job Vacancies Going into 2020

Significantly down year on year, the Hong Kong Job market shows signs of recovery in March after a very weak start to 2020.  The weak start was largely driven by the impact of the Coronavirus coupled with the Chinese New Year holiday being early in the calendar year.

Links International’s Hong Kong Job Index (JOB: EX) shows job postings fell by 11% between December and January and continued to fall by 8% between January and February in contrast to previous years where jobs tend to increase between January and February.

However, there were positive signs of a recovery of the job market in March with job postings increasing by 2% in the first week of March with a large portion of the Hong Kong workforce returning to offices after the Government relaxed its recommendation to work from home.

2020 Feb Job Index Percentage Change in Weekly Job Posting
Source: Links Internation Job Index
2020 Feb Job Index _Links Job Posting Index hk
Source: Links Internation Job Index

Looking at job postings by job function, Sales, Marketing, Human Resources, and Administration roles were the most affected at the start of 2020, with job postings for these functions falling between 10% – 15% from December to February. 

Finance and IT jobs showing the strongest signs of recovery

While all job functions recovered slightly in the first week of March, the demand for IT and Accounting and Finance candidates showed the strongest signs of recovery.

Just a few days into March, job postings for IT positions are already up 4% and Finance positions are up by 2%. In particular, there is a significant increase in demand for Financial Controllers and FP&A Managers as businesses look to keep costs under control in light of increased uncertainty. 

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2020 Feb Job Index _ Percentage Change of Weekly Job Postings By Function
Source: Links Internation Job Index

Hong Kong Unemployment rate on the rise

The job market moved slightly into employers’ favour as unemployment in Hong Kong continues to increase from the record low employment rates seen in 2019 of 2.2% to 3.4% in January 2020. 

While the January numbers were relatively low compared to global standards, we expect that this unemployment rate will continue to increase in Q1 and Q2 of 2020 as increasing numbers of employers (particular retail, hospitality and F&B) reduce staff numbers or place staff on unpaid leave to mitigate the impact of the Coronavirus and forecast slower growth in 2020.  

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.  In addition, the number of candidates applying for jobs increased significantly from December 2019 to January 2020 and remained strong in February. 

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By Scott Thomson
Group Managing Director, Links International

Links International is an industry leader in innovative HR outsourcing with services such as payroll outsourcing, visa application, Employer of Record (EOR), recruitment, outplacement and more! Contact us for more information on how we can help leverage your HR function.

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