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Hong Kong Jan.-Mar. Jobless Rate Below Expectations

Hong Kong's unemployment rate came in below economists' forecast in the January-March period, preliminary data released by the Census and Statistics Department showed Thursday.

The seasonally adjusted jobless rate remained unchanged sequentially at 3.4 percent in the three months ended March. Economists were looking for a jobless rate of 3.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the underemployment rate increased to 1.6 percent during the period from 1.5 percent in the December-February period.

At the same time, the number of employed persons in Hong Kong edged up by 1,000 to around 3.65 million in the quarter ended March.

"While employers' hiring sentiment seems to have revived lately, the employment situation going forward continues to hinge crucially on the overall economic growth and the pace of job creation in the corporate sector," Labour and Welfare secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said. "In this regard, uncertainties in the external environment, in particular those over the lacklustre performance of major economies and the hovering Eurozone debt crisis, remain a cause of concern."

The agency said the number of private sector vacancies recorded by the Labor Department increased 4.4 percent month-on-month to to 98,940 in March.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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