One-third of Hong Kong firms expect to hire more staff but economic pressures make bosses cautious

1 month ago

One-third of Hong Kong firms expect to hire more staff but economic pressures make bosses cautious

More than one-third of Hong Kong employers expect to hire more workers in the next three months but economic pressures and the trend of residents heading across the border to spend their cash have made bosses more cautious about recruitment, a survey has found.

Human resources firm ManpowerGroup Greater China released a quarterly survey on the city’s employment outlook on Tuesday after interviewing 525 firms earlier this month.

It found 37 per cent expected an increase in staffing in the third quarter of this year, while 29 per cent anticipated a decrease, and 32 per cent forecast no change.

The net employment outlook index for the three months to September stood at 8 per cent, down from 15 per cent for the previous quarter, when 40 per cent of respondents expected an increase in hiring and 25 per cent anticipated a decrease.

The index is calculated by subtracting the percentage of employers anticipating a decline in hiring activity from the percentage expecting an increase, with a positive figure indicating more bosses expect to add staff.

“The overall employment prospects in Hong Kong are stable,” said Lancy Chui Yuk-shan, senior vice-president of the company.

“However, employers are adopting a more cautious approach towards hiring. This shift in hiring intentions is influenced by the ongoing decline in the international economic environment and the gradual shift of local consumption patterns towards the mainland market.”

Chui noted that Hong Kong’s employment outlook index for the quarter was lower than the global level of 22 per cent.

Globally, Costa Rica had the highest index, at 35 per cent, while Argentina and Romania had the lowest, at 3 per cent, according to the survey, which covered more than 40,000 employers across 42 countries and regions worldwide.

In the Asia-Pacific region, India and mainland China reported the strongest outlook, at 30 per cent and 28 per cent, respectively. Hong Kong’s 8 per cent and Japan’s 12 per cent were among the weakest.

Hong Kong’s unemployment rate stood at 3 per cent between February and April Photo: Eugene Lee

The survey also showed that six out of seven sectors in Hong Kong had a positive employment outlook index for the next three months, with the highest, 32 per cent, in the information technology industry, followed by 23 per cent in healthcare and life sciences.

Chui attributed the strong employment momentum in the IT sector to the widespread adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) technology in companies, which led to growing demand for skilled professionals.

She said 52 per cent of the 525 companies surveyed had already adopted AI tools, while 25 per cent planned to implement Al technology within the next year.

Employers in the consumer goods and services sector also reported a positive index of 6 per cent.

Chui said hiring plans were prompted by Hong Kong lining up more than 100 mega events for the second half of the year as well as the expansion of a solo visit scheme to include eight more mainland Chinese cities.

“It is anticipated that these initiatives will stimulate an upbeat hiring pace in this sector, catering to the growing number of tourists and the rise in local consumption,” she said, adding that the growing number of mainland restaurants expanding to Hong Kong would also bring more job opportunities locally.

Authorities earlier announced that from May 27, residents from Taiyuan, Hohhot, Harbin, Lhasa, Lanzhou, Xining, Yinchuan and Urumqi would be able to apply to visit Hong Kong on a solo basis instead of being restricted to tour group trips.

Other sectors with a positive index were communication services at 9 per cent, financials and real estate at 8 per cent, and industrials and materials at 7 per cent.

The only one with a negative index was the transport, logistics and automotive industry, at minus 17 per cent.

Chui noted the transport and logistics sector had faced challenges from intensified competition and global trade disputes, which led to the declining container throughput and affected the logistics supply chain, causing employers to be more cautious about hiring.

The city’s unemployment rate stood at 3 per cent between February and April this year, unchanged from the January-to-March period.

Original Article