Unemployment rate holds stable ahead of virus-stricken January


The unemployment rate mostly held stable in the final quarter of last year, the government announced yesterday.
Data released yesterday by the Statistics and Census Service (DSEC) showed that during the three-month period between October and December 2019, the general unemployment rate was 1.7% and the unemployment rate of local residents stood at 2.3%.
According to DSEC, both indicators remained unchanged from the previous three-month period between September and November 2019, and unchanged from the full-year data.
“Mostly stable” has been the story of local employment for the past eight years, but could change as early as next month when the January figures are expected to show how businesses in the Macau SAR have coped with the arrival of the Wuhan coronavirus.
Since last week, the Times has reported on numerous cases of staff being asked to take leave across the gaming, retail and food and beverage sectors. In some cases, staff are understood to have been coerced into taking leave. In other cases, workers have already been made redundant in anticipation of a prolonged down period for local businesses.
Hit hard by a 78% drop in visitor arrivals this Chinese Lunar New Year, some businesses in the restaurant and retail sectors have already announced redundancies. Initial reports suggest the redundancies are targeting non-local workers.
On Friday, the Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) and the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau met with local casinos operators, finding no cases of employees being forced to take unpaid leave. The DSAL said it would continue to pay close attention to the situation.
The fundamental change to the business environment in Macau alludes to a likely drop in the employment rate in the coming months. If confirmed, this would present a challenge for economic planners, unseen in the casino enclave in nearly a decade. Official data shows that the general unemployment rate in Macau has held at 2% or below since 2012.
The data released by DSEC yesterday shows that for the whole year of 2019, the general unemployment rate was also 1.7% and the unemployment rate of local residents was 2.3%. Both indicators were down by 0.1 percentage points year-on-year, the statistical authority reported.
The median monthly employment earnings of the employed (MOP17,000) increased by MOP1,000, while those of employed residents (MOP20,000) stayed flat year-on-year.

Categories Macau