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Hong Kong job market signals rebound in March despite coronavirus

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 As the ongoing impact of COVID-19 persists in Asia and indeed across the globe, there are signs of life in Hong Kong’s recruitment market after a tough start to the year.

According to Links International’s Hong Kong job index, there was an 11% drop in job vacancies going into 2020, with the job market remaining soft in January and February (drop of 8%) due to the coronavirus combined with the effect of Chinese New Year being early in the calendar year.

This was in contrast to previous years, where jobs tended to increase in the first two months.

But on a more positive note, there were signs of recovery of recruitment in March with job postings increasing by 2% in the first week of the month with a large part of Hong Kong’s workforce returning to offices after the government relaxed its work-from-home directive.

According to the report, “Looking at job postings by job function, human resources, sales, marketing, and administration roles were the most affected at the start of 2020, with job postings for these functions falling between 10% and 15% from December to February.”

While all job functions showed improvement in early March, the demand for IT and accounting and finance candidates posted the strongest signs of recovery.

“Just a few days into March, job postings for IT positions are already up 4% and finance positions are up by 2%. In particular, there is a significant increase in demand for financial controllers and financial planning and analysis (FP&A) managers as businesses look to keep costs under control in light of increased uncertainty,” the report stated.

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Conversely, a rise in Hong Kong’s unemployment rate is expected through the rest of Q1 and Q2 as “increasing numbers of employers (particular retail, hospitality and F&B) reduce staff numbers or place staff on unpaid leave to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus and forecast slower growth in 2020”.

Images courtesy Links International

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