Unemployment levels in consumption and tourism-related segments were at the highest in two years.

The unemployment rate of the food and beverage services sector rose sharply to a six-year high of 6% in July-September, according to data from the Census & Statistics Department (C&SD).

The unemployment rate of the consumption and tourism-related segments, including retail, accommodation and food services sectors as a whole, rose further to 4.9%, the highest point in more than two years.

Dr. Law Chi-kwong, Secretary for Labour and Welfare, noted that the weak local consumption and plunging visitor arrivals caused by local social conditions continued to weigh on the labour market.

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Overall seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained unchanged at 2.9% in July-September, similar to the three-month period between June-August.

Total employment decreased by 8,200 to 3.85 million in July-September from 3.86 million in June-August. Over the same period, the labour force also decreased by around 8,500 from 3.98 million to more than 3.97 million.

Despite the stable jobless rate, total employment was observed to have declined “slightly” compared to the level recorded over the same period last year, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare added.

The underemployment rate also remained unchanged at 1%.

A notable decrease was observed in the information and communications sector, whilst an increase in employment was mainly seen in the food and beverage service activities sector, noted C&SD.

The number of unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) in July-September climbed 120,300, from 120,600 in June-August. Underemployed persons in July-September also inched up to 41,500 from 41,000 in June-August.

To stabilise employment, Law announced that the Labour Department will launch a pilot scheme to encourage the elderly, young people and persons with disabilities to undergo and complete on-the-job training under its respective employment programmes through the provision of a retention allowance.