Labour Market Perked Up in the Second Half of 2009

(Tuesday, March 16, 2010)

Labour Market Perked Up in the Second Half of 2009
Optimistic job market in first quarter of 2010 is ahead

 

[March 16, 2010 – Hong Kong]   The labour market in Hong Kong perked up in the fourth quarter of 2009 and a stronger intention to hire among employers is anticipated for the first quarter of 2010, according to the Fourth Quarter 2009 Survey of Manpower Statisticsconducted by the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management (HKIHRM).

Conducted since 2002, the HKIHRM Quarterly Survey of Manpower Statistics regularly tracks manpower movements in Hong Kong’s labour market. A total of 142 companies participated in the 2009 fourth-quarter survey, covering some 122,000 employees. Key data generated include staff turnover, job vacancy and staff absence rates, collected on a quarterly and annual basis. 

Staff Turnover Rate
The overall turnover rate for the fourth quarter of 2009 was 2.29%, 0.43 percentage point lower than for the previous quarter (2.72%), but 0.29 percentage point higher than for the same period in 2008. The retail sector recorded the highest turnover (4.29%), followed by the business/ professional services (4.14%) sector. In terms of staff grade, the highest turnover rate was among clerical / frontline staff (2.54%), followed by the middle management / non-managerial professionals segment (2.53%).

For the second half of 2009, the overall turnover rate was 5.01%, 1.82 percentage points higher than the figure recorded for the first half of the year. But this figure was 1.22 percentage points lower than that for the same period in 2008. For the year 2009, the overall turnover rate was 8.2%. The retail industry recorded the highest annual turnover rate (16.63%), followed by the property development / real estate / construction (15.07%) and business / professional services (12.47%) sectors.

Job Vacancy Rate
The overall average job vacancy rate for the fourth quarter of 2009 was 2.29%. This figure was 0.44 percentage point higher than the figure recorded for the third quarter of 2009, but 0.1 percentage point lower than for the same period in 2008. The community / social / personal services sector recorded the highest job vacancy rate (4.87%), followed by the property development / real estate / construction sector (3.04%). In terms of staff grade, the highest vacancy rate was found in the middle management / non-managerial professionals segment (2.91%).

For the second half of 2009, the overall average vacancy rate was 2.07%. This rate was 0.31 percentage point higher than the figure recorded in the first half of 2009, but 1.01 percentage points lower than for the same period in 2008. For the year 2009, the overall average vacancy rate was 1.92%.The community / social / personal services sector recorded the highest annual vacancy rate on average (4.31%), followed by the property development / real estate / construction (2.89%) and business / professional services (2.21%) sectors.

New Positions/Position Cuts
The percentage net growth in new positions during the fourth quarter was 0.52%, 0.04 percentage point lower than the record set in the previous quarter, but 0.51 percentage point higher than the figure recorded for the same period in 2008. The highest net growth in job positions was recorded in the retail sector (2.31%), followed by the community / social / personal services sector (1.5%). In terms of staff grade, the highest net growth during the fourth quarter of 2009 was recorded in the middle management / non-managerial professionals segment (1.09%).

"The improvement in the economic situation in the second half of 2009 created new business opportunities, and eventually a more upbeat labour market situation was recorded. But for 2009 as a whole, both employee-turnover and job-vacancy rates were back to 2003/2004 levels," said Mr David Li Chi-ming, Vice-President of the HKIHRM.

Absence Rate
The Institute has been collecting data on employee absenteeism since the third quarter of 2005. In this survey, 'absence' is defined as an unscheduled absence of one or more days, including sick leave (paid or unpaid), emergency leave and casual leave. The results for the fourth quarter of 2009 showed that the overall absence rate for the approximately 51,800 employees covered by the survey was 1.87%. The business/ professional services sector recorded the highest absence rate (3.49%), followed by the community / social / personal services sector (2.96%). In terms of staff grade, the clerical / frontline segment recorded the highest absence rate (1.49%).

"The absence rate for the fourth quarter of 2009 remained at a high level may be due to the outbreak of swine flu and weather fluctuations during October and December last year. Companies are therefore recommended to invest in and provide healthcare programmes to raise employee awareness of physical and mental wellness," remarked Mr Li.

Intention to Hire in the First Quarter of 2010
The quarterly survey also collected data on companies' hiring intentions for the following quarter. Of the respondent companies, 28.1% planned to increase hiring in the first quarter of 2010, a rise from 20.9% recorded in the previous quarter. Half of the companies surveyed reported that their recruitment plans may remain unchanged (50.4%) while 18% said they may freeze hiring.

"Recruitment confidence has further improved among companies in Hong Kong. Among companies that have hiring plans, those from the financial services / banking / insurance and real estate/ property development sectors were found to have a strong intention to recruit, with over 40% of them indicating that they will increase hiring in the first quarter of 2010," added Mr Li.

Conclusion
During the second half of 2009, the labour market saw a significant rebound from the first half of the year, reflecting continuous improvement in the economic situation. "Data revealed that new job creation at year-end was much better than in 2008, while companies' hiring intentions have been on the rise for three consecutive quarters, reflecting that employers are more confident in the pace of economic recovery. It is believed that after the long new-year holiday period, the labour market will become more active and therefore companies should put more focus on their internal manpower-planning strategies, especially as regards recruitment and talent retention. However, it is noteworthy that the near-term labour market outlook may remain uncertain as business activities in developed economies have still to demonstrate a definite trend. A change to interest rates and macro-economic controls in the Mainland may also have a considerable impact on business operations," Mr Li concluded.

 

 

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[Please click here to download the press release together with the data charts]

 

 

About HKIHRM 

As the most representative professional human resource institute in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management (HKIHRM), a non-profit making organisation, has over 4,900 individual and corporate members. Founded in February 1977, the Institute aims at developing, maintaining and enhancing professional standards in HR management, and increasing the perceived value and influence of the HR profession. The Institute organises a wide range of professional activities such as multi-level training programmes and conferences, and provides services such as conducting surveys and publishing a professional journal. The HKIHRM is a member of the Asia Pacific Federation of Human Resource Management which is one of the continental federations under the World Federation of People Management Associations. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.hkihrm.org.

 

 

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