The overall unemployment rate in Hong Kong rose to 3.2 percent as of the end of November, highest since 2017. The months of protests seem to have a negative impact on the job market of one of the Asian financial hub.
From tourism to retail, several sectors have taken a hit ever since the protests in Hong Kong began. Operations for many businesses have slowed down, many have closed shops, and factories. The political unrest has led to a sharp slowdown and reduced spending.
For the consumption and tourism-related sector, which includes retail, accommodations and food services, the unemployment rate rose to a three-year high of 5.2 percent for the September-to-November period. Further, the food and beverage sector witnessed joblessness rise to 6.2 percent, the highest in more than eight years.
Many believe that with the protests not seeming to come to an end, the economy might be moving towards a phase of recession. The instability has affected jobs and the recent numbers shared above are proof. In the past few months, there have been several news about retailers, restaurants and hotels cutting wages and hours or letting staff go just to survive and sustain their business.
"The labour market will be under even more pressure in the near term if the overall economy continues to weaken. The government will monitor the developments closely," shared Law Chi-kwong, the secretary for labour and welfare of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government.
While the government is still trying to navigate through the ongoing protests and working on mitigating its negative impact on the job market, it is also acknowledging another factor or cause of unemployment, skilling. Last week, Hong Kong’s Labour Department launched measures to enhance the Youth Employment and Training Program. Although these skilling interventions will enable the workforce to become more job ready, however, the question is where will the workforce work if jobs wouldn’t be there.
In fact, if we were to believe the findings of the latest report by recruiting firm Robert Walters, many global banks and other employers are considering hiring in alternative locations like Singapore and Taiwan.
The protests that began in June over a now-withdrawn extradition bill have since escalated. When will these stop remains uncertain and so does the future of Hong Kong’s economy and job market.