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According to the latest statistics released by the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD), the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 2.8% in the three months to September, while the underemployment rate increased 0.1% to 1.2%.
Unemployment dropped across many major sectors, including accommodation and food services, financing, and information and communications, except for the manufacturing sector which saw a year-on-year increase of 1% to 3.8%.
Logistics and maritime business leaders are bracing for the impact of the trade war as its negative effects are expected to emerge as soon as March 2019.
Experts, however, have mixed opinions on the matter. While some manufacturers have reported a reduction in orders and planned to freeze workforce and wages, professor Terence Chong, executive director of Lau Chor Tak Institute of Global Economics and Finance of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, believes the trade war will only have a small effect on the workplace.
The increase in the unemployment rate in the manufacturing industry had already started before the trade war, and the real reason for the increase is the local labour force has been saturated.
On the other hand, roles in the IT and financing sectors are in high demand according to Alexa Chow, managing director of AMAC.
Companies of all kinds are actively looking for skilled IT specialists, while the financial sector needs talent with a legal or accounting background to handle the increasingly complex compliance processes.
Retail has also experienced labour shortages as the high-speed rail and Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge are propelling the industry.
This is also reflected in the salary. C&SD reveals the latest median monthly income has reached a record high of $16,900.
Chow said that employees in general received a pay rise of 3% to 5% over the past year; 12.5% for professionals. Mid-level professionals as well as candidates with four to five years of experience and expertise in the IT, engineering and finance sectors are extremely popular.
That said, many businesses are currently on the lookout for external headwinds such as the trade war and renminbi depreciation, and will be more cautious on salary adjustments.
Commenting on pay increments next year, Chow said employees should expect a smaller salary increase – 3% to 3.4% on average and 5% to 8% for mid-level professionals.