The general unemployment rate for March-May 2020 stood at 2.4%, the highest figure since 2011, amid the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The unemployment rate among local residents was 3.4%, up 0.3 percentage points from the previous period (February-April), while the general rate had increased by 0.2 percent.
The general unemployment rate in the city has been at 2% or below for the past eight years.
The recent increase is due to the pandemic outbreak, which has caused layoffs at some companies as an effect of economic downturn.
According to the official data, the number of people unemployed increased by 800 to 9,700 from the previous period.
Among the unemployed population searching for a new job, most were previously engaged in the retail and in gaming and junket activities. The number of underemployed individuals increased by 2,300 to 10,600, with the majority working in gaming and junket activities, the construction sector and retail sector.
With few to almost no visitors entering the Macau SAR due to travel restrictions, businesses, particularly in the tourism and hospitality sector, have been deeply affected.
During the peak of the pandemic in February, Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng called on gaming operators not to lay off workers nor cut their salaries.
However, gaming operators have had to cope with a downturn in visitor arrivals from mainland China. These operators are said to be losing millions of patacas per day.
In the first five months of 2020, the number of visitor arrivals fell by 81.1% year-on-year to 3.24 million, with 2.85 million of them arriving in January, the period prior to the pandemic outbreak in Macau.
It is still unclear when travel restrictions will be eased and when the central government will resume the issuance of Individual Visit Scheme visas and group tour visas.
With the recent outbreak of Covid-19 in Beijing, analysts have expressed concerns that the country’s plan to ease travel restrictions may be delayed.
The entry restrictions that have been strictly enforced have also caused gaming revenue to plunge. Last month, the city’s gross gaming revenue recorded a drop of 93.2% from a year earlier.
Last week, when commenting on the recent layoffs by gaming operators, Ho described the moves as a “normal phenomenon,” adding that similar situations are occurring globally.
Two gaming operators chartered a flight back to the Philippines to repatriate their workers.
In the city, the term layoff has been quite taboo among local residents, as local workers have always been given the impression that they will be prioritized over foreign workers.
During the March to May period, the total labor force was 404,300 and the labor force participation rate was 70.5%.
Total employment was 394,600 and number of employed residents totaled 280,100, up by 400 and 2,200 respectively from the previous period. Analyzed by industry, employment in the construction sector increased, while that in retail and hotels decreased.
Be prepared to ‘accept different types of jobs’: DSAL
The Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) has hinted that residents should be prepared to lower their standards when searching for work.
The DSAL issued a statement yesterday to address the changing labor market conditions brought about by the spread of Covid-19. The bureau has urged the public to “adjust their mentality” when seeking for jobs and to be prepared to “accept different types of jobs” if necessary.
Data released over the weekend showed that unemployment is on the rise in Macau, reaching levels not seen since 2011.
In recent months, the DSAL has enhanced its training and career consultancy services to better equip unemployed residents with the skills needed to reenter the job market. The government authority is also actively matching unemployed residents with vacancies in the construction, property management, catering and retail industries, according to the statement.
However, the effectiveness of the employment referral work depends on “the joint efforts of both parties,” according to the DSAL.
It called on employers to provide job vacancies according to their actual demand and for job seekers to “cooperate with the referral work of the Bureau.”
“Job seekers need to do their best to cooperate [by] adjusting their mentality, taking every interview seriously and demonstrating their ability,” said the bureau in the statement. This will help “improve the chances of being hired.” Daniel Beitler