HONG KONG, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- Hong Kong's jobless rate climbed to the highest notch in nearly 17 years over the past three months as the COVID-19 epidemic continued to weigh on the labor market, official data showed Thursday.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 7 percent during the November-January period, up from 6.6 percent registered for the previous comparable time ending December, according to a statement of the Census and Statistics Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government.
Meanwhile, the underemployment rate increased from 3.4 percent to 3.8 percent. Total employment fell by 0.5 percent to 3.63 million, and the unemployed persons increased by 3.1 percent to 253,300.
The labor market was under notable pressure due to the fourth wave of the local epidemic, Secretary for Labor and Welfare of the HKSAR government Law Chi-kwong said.
The consumption- and tourism-related sectors remained the hardest hit, with a combined jobless rate of 11.3 percent. The rate for food and beverage service activities spiked to 14.7 percent. Conditions in most other sectors also deteriorated, including education, arts, entertainment and recreation.
Although the fourth wave of the epidemic has shown signs of easing, the labor market will remain under pressure in the near term as it will take time for economic activities to return to normal, Law said, stressing that taking the epidemic under control is of pivotal importance to economic recovery.
The government will continue to monitor the situation closely, he said.