Links Job Index: Job Market Recovers in September with 9% Increase

Links International’s September 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.

A Strong 9% Recovery Lifts Job Market to Pre-Third Wave Levels

As the number of Covid-19 cases continues to drop in Hong Kong and the third outbreak seemingly under control, the HK job market responded positively with a 9% jump. With social distancing measures further eased and businesses returning to usual working arrangements, September has seen a large jump in job postings similar to the previous recovery seen in June. 

The rally in the job market seen at the end of August continued strongly into September, taking the number of job postings to levels similar to February and March. An overall 9% increase for the month of September is the second strongest rally in the job market in 2020.

With the mass voluntary testing scheme completed and local situation stabilising, the Hong Kong government eased measures significantly and has allowed the reopening of bars, recreational facilities, and theme parks.

Although the city has gone through the worst period of Covid-19 infections, the job market has returned impressively to levels seen before Covid-19 hit Hong Kong. As the daily number of cases continue to be low, we expect the job market to remain relatively stable for Q4. The increase in monthly job postings also coincides with the drop in job ad response rates, which indicates that unemployment rates could further improve in the short term.

The real test for Hong Kong’s job market will be when the Employment Support Scheme (ESS) ends in November. Without the economic support from the government, some industry-specific businesses most affected by the pandemic could struggle to retain employees. Even though the short term outlook is stable, we could potentially see unemployment increasing towards the end of 2020.

Source: Links International Job Index
Source: Links International Job Index

Strong Recoveries Across All Job Functions, with Marketing & PR Leading the Charge

The most affected job functions by the third-wave saw the strongest recoveries in September. Marketing/Public Relations posted a 16% recovery for the month while both the Admin & HR (12%) and the Sales, CS & Business Development (11%) function saw a double-digit rebound. Finance & Accounting job postings increased 9% while the hardy IT function continued its positive incline by growing 4%. Key changes to specific roles for the month include:

  • The need for junior HR roles has returned after taking a hit in July and August
  • Marketing Communications Managers saw strong demand in September while Digital Marketing Managers stayed resilient
  • Demand for Channel Sales Managers grew by 31%
  • eCommerce and PR Manager roles which experienced a rough August bounced back over 20%
  • Internal Audit Manager roles grew 32%
Source: Links International Job Index

Unemployment Rate Remains at 6.1% for June to August Period

We were cautiously optimistic in our August edition of Job Index that the unemployment rate will not increase significantly in the short term, and this prediction has so far stayed true as the unemployment rate stayed the same at 6.1%.

Despite the height of the third-wave being in the June and August period, unemployment remaining at 6.1% strongly indicates that the unemployment rate may have levelled off for now. The number of unemployed people stood at 248,000 for June to August period, with tourism, food & beverage, and construction sectors being the hardest hit. Although the local epidemic has been easing, the global situation continues to fluctuate – this combined with the coming end of the ESS means the job market will be under pressure at the end of 2020. 

Hong Kong Announced HK$24 Billion Third-Round Relief Package

The Hong Kong government announced in mid-September a third round of relief funding to help struggling local businesses. The package which totals HK$24 billion (US$3.1 billion) specifically targets the hardest hit industries by including cash injections, rental reliefs, and loan guarantees.

For catering businesses, beauty salons, massage parlours, and party room operators a one-off cash subsidy will be provided. Jobless Hong Kong residents which meet the criteria can also receive support under the Comprehensive Social Security Scheme (CSSA). Although this round of stimulus is less substantial than the previous two, it should still have a positive impact on the job market and provide more stability. However, we will still need to assess the situation after the end of the ESS as this will be the most significant period for HK’s job market. To stay up to date on the latest schemes that can help or affect your business, contact our professional HR team for a chat now!       

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