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Hong Kong's jobless rate highest in over a decade at 5.2%

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Hong Kong's unemployment rate rose to the highest in more than a decade in the February-April period as the coronavirus crisis hobbled activity in an economy already in recession after often-violent anti-government protests last year.

[HONG KONG] Hong Kong's unemployment rate rose to the highest in more than a decade in the February-April period as the coronavirus crisis hobbled activity in an economy already in recession after often-violent anti-government protests last year.

The seasonally adjusted jobless rate for the three-month period ended in April rose to 5.2 per cent from 4.2 per cent in January-March, government data showed on Tuesday.

The underemployment rate hit 3.1 per cent, the highest in more than 15 years, from 2.1 per cent in the previous three-month rolling period.

Total employment fell by around 62,600 to 3.657 million in February-April period.

The year-on-year declines in total employment and the labour force widened further to 5.4 per cent and 3.0 per cent, respectively, both the deepest on record.

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The unemployment rate in the consumption- and tourism-related sectors combined soared to 9 per cent, the highest in more than 15 years and the underemployment rate to 5.9 per cent, its highest on record.

"The labour market will continue to face immense pressure in the near term," Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong said in a statement.

Hong Kong's economy suffered its worst contraction on record in the first three months of the year.

Visitor arrivals were close to zero and about 25 per cent of retail stores in the city were expected to close by the end of the year, despite fresh government relief measures, according to the Hong Kong Retail Management Association.

Social unrest is resurfacing in Hong Kong as the city has proven relatively successful at tackling the coronavirus, having recorded 1,056 cases and four deaths. While the government has allowed bars, gyms and cinemas to reopen, it maintains that group gatherings should be limited to eight people. 

REUTERS

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