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Hong Kong's jobless rate remains at over 15-year high

In the morning rush hour, HK people wear masks.(China News Service)

Hong Kong's jobless rate remained the highest in more than 15 years during the past three months as the economy was still struggling against double blows from the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic and months of social unrest last year.

The unemployment rate rose further from 5.9 percent during the March-May period to 6.2 percent in the April-June period, data from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government showed on Monday. Over the same period, the underemployment rate also increased from 3.5 percent to 3.7 percent.

"The labor market continued to deteriorate for the second quarter of 2020 as a whole," Secretary for Labor and Welfare Law Chi-kwong said, stressing the two figures stayed at the highest levels in over 15 years and nearly 17 years, respectively.

The consumption and tourism-related sectors saw a combined jobless rate of 10.7 percent from April to June, much higher than the average level and marking the highest since the SARS outbreak in 2003. The unemployment rate of food and beverage service stood at 14.7 percent.

"The still serious epidemic situations in certain parts of the world, and renewed surge in local cases lately serve as a timely reminder that the economic outlook is still subject to huge uncertainties," Law said.

Hong Kong's labor market situation will depend very much on how the global and local epidemic situations evolve, he added.

There was a resurgence of new COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong over the past weeks. The Center for Health Protection on Monday reported 73 new cases, including 66 local infections.

The government has rolled out relief measures of unprecedented scale in the face of the worsening unemployment, including a series of measures to create jobs and help keep workers in employment.

Law said the government will start to provide the elderly and middle-aged workers an allowance in September to encourage them to participate in on-the-job training and will also increase the subsidy to employers hiring the elderly and middle-aged.

(Source: Xinhua News Agency)

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