Hong Kong's July-September unemployment at near 16-year high, pressure remains

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A man with a suitcase looks at recruitment advertisements outside a labour market in Guangzhou

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong's seasonally adjusted unemployment rose slightly to 6.4% in the period from July to September, as government relief measures provided some support and coronavirus curbs helped contain infections in an economy already in recession.

The figure was the highest in close to 16 years and compared with 6.1% for the period from June to August.

The underemployment rate remained unchanged, at 3.8% in the two three-month rolling periods. The number of unemployed rose by about 11,500 people to 259,800 in the three months.

Labour Secretary Law Chi-kwong said the labour market deteriorated for the third quarter in Hong Kong's third wave of the pandemic, but the pressure showed signs of stabilising as the virus situation abated in September.

"As the overall economic situation remains weak and the global pandemic is still evolving, the labour market will remain under pressure in the near term," he added.

The unemployment rate for the consumption- and tourism-related sectors combined surged by 0.8 percentage point to 11.7% in July-September, its highest since the SARS onslaught of 2003.

(Reporting by Twinnie Siu and Donny Kwok; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)