Links Job Index: Job Market Stable in October, As Unemployment Rises 0.3%

Links International’s October 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.

Job Market Remains stable in October but will be challenged short term as Government ESS funding finishes in November

October Covid-19 cases remained under control in HK and this was reflected in the Job Market which stayed stable month-on-month. Social distancing measures further easing towards the end of October combined with the recovery of China’s economy are positive signs that business confidence is returning in HK medium-term.

After a strong rally in August and September, the growth in the job market remained stable for the month of October which was similar to the flat market we saw in July after the June recovery.

As mentioned in last month’s Job Index, the Employment Support Scheme (ESS) final subsidy month for employers is in November and is the next significant hurdle for the HK job market and unemployment rates. The ceasing of the Government-funded ESS combined with the usual seasonal reduction in hiring during Q4 as candidates wait to receive their bonuses is likely to reduce HK job posting and increase unemployment short term. 

The solid recovery of Mainland China’s economy combined with the recovering Hong Kong consumer activity should uplift the city’s economy in Q4, barring another major covid-19 outbreak. As China’s recovery momentum continues to build and activities including the ANT IPO commence, we will see trade, capital, and people flow increasing and job postings picking up.

Source: Links International Job Index

Demand for Sales Professionals Picks Up Steam

After a slight blip at the start of the month, job postings began to pick up again in the final 2 weeks of October. The Sales, CS & Business Development function was particularly active, growing 2% and 5% in week 43 and 44. With the need for sales positions increasing, it strongly indicates business sentiment is positive and the local market is returning. Other functions were flat and did not see much movement for the month positively or negatively.

Key changes to specific roles for the month include:

  • Senior HR positions saw strong demand with both HR Managers and HR Business Partners rising
  • Sales Director and Sales Manager roles increased by 30%+
  • The number of available senior finance roles all increased in October
  • Demand for Marketing & Public Relations managerial positions continued its positive trajectory
Source: Links International Job Index

Unemployment Rate Rises by 0.3%

The unemployment rate for the period between July and September increased by 0.3% to 6.4%. This has been the first time since the April to June period for the rate to increase, hitting its highest in around 16 years.  

Around a further 11,500 people lost their jobs, taking the number of unemployed to 259,800. Tourism-related sectors were particularly affected, with retail, accommodation, and catering businesses hit particularly hard. After Hong Kong reported tourism had plunged by 99.7% in September compared to last year, it comes as little surprise unemployment would increase. However, although there has been an increase, the rise has not been as severe as earlier in the year and is still in line with the small variations we expected.

Positive Travel Announcements with Singapore

Months of travel restrictions have crippled many businesses that rely heavily on tourism but with better control of the spread of Covid-19, Hong Kong and Singapore will open a travel bubble between the two cities. This will come as welcome news for tourism-related businesses that have been crying out for borders to reopen. The influx of tourism will encourage consumer spending and prop up the battered economy.

If successful, Hong Kong could potentially explore other travel corridors with other countries and expose its economy to a bigger market. The reopening of borders with Mainland China will also be the most important factor in providing its greatest economic boost. If a deal can be reached between Guangdong and Hong Kong to make travel in the Greater Bay Area quarantine free, the job market could see a strong lift.

Policies and regulations are constantly changing during these uncertain times. Learn more about changes in Asia-Pacific countries by reading our Q4 Onboard and download our APAC Legislation Comparison Chart, or you can contact us now for more details on the latest changes you need to know! 

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