Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hong Kong Unemployment Falls (again)

Hong Kong's unemployment rate fell to 3.4% during the three months ending December 2007. This is the lowest unemployment rate since 1998. The underemployment rate fell to 2.1%. The flip side is that the total number of persons in paid employment rose 25,700 to a record 3.5 million.

The continued strength of the employment data is more evidence of the strength of Hong Kong's economy. Lower unemployment has a number of consequences: increased consumer spending, increased revenues for retailers, increased demand for housing (both by first time buyers and those looking to upgrade) and increased savings (helping to keep interest rates down).

The negative consequences of higher employment also exist: upward pressure on wages and difficulties in sourcing staff limiting businesses ability to expand, increased inflation, greater pressure on services (e.g. road congestion) and greater pressure on employees to work ever longer hours at the expense of their personal lives.

Still, all in all, low unemployment is better than high unemployment - especially for those who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed.

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