In the three months to December, the jobless rate fell for both residents (2.9 percent from 3.1 percent in Q3) and citizens (3.0 percent from 3.2 percent).
In Q4 some 3,300 workers were laid off, comapared to 3,400 in the previous quarter and 5,440 in Q4 of 2016. Retrenchments decreased in construction and services, but rose in manufacturing.
Total employment increased by 12,800, compared to a 2,300 decline in the preceding quarter. It is the first rise since the last quarter 2016 as employment grew in services, supported by hiring for the year-end festive season. Meantime, manufacturing and construction employment continued to contract, but at a slower pace.
For full 2017, unemployment rate edged up to 2.2 percent from 2.1 percent in a year earlier. It was the highest figure since 2010. The jobless rate rose for both resident (3.1 percent from 3.0 percent) and citizens (3.3 percent from 3.1 percent). Total employment declined by 10,700 (-0.3 percent), the first drop since 2003. This was due to a larger contraction in foreign employment (-32,000 or -2.8 percent) compared to 2016 (-2,500 or -0.2 percent), even though local employment continued to grow. Across sectors, employment contracted for manufacturing (-11,500) and construction (-38,200). In contrast, employment went up in services (39,400). The number of retrenchments were recorded at 14,340, significantly lower than in 2016 (19,170). Compared with 2016, the number of layoffs declined in manufacturing and services, and remained similar in construction. Services contributed the bulk of retrenchments in 2017.