Hong Kong’s labour market has experienced its most significant decline on record, highlighting the challenges the city faces with an ageing population and talent outflow.
The Census and Statistics Department’s latest data reveals that the working population declined by 94,100 or 2.4 per cent in 2022, the largest drop since 1985 when the system of keeping records was started. Hong Kong’s struggle to revive an economy that has contracted for the third time in four years is compounded by the departure of tens of thousands of professionals, including lawyers and bankers, due to the national security law and pandemic restrictions.
The country is concerned that a shortage of manpower will affect public services and the ability of the citizens to compete successfully. To address this issue, Hong Kong’s administration launched a global talent programme last year, offering a two-year visa for high-income workers and top university graduates.
The program has attracted mostly Chinese applicants, with the majority coming from the mainland. Hong Kong is also competing with Singapore to attract wealthy businesses by cutting taxes for family offices. However, one of the significant obstacles Hong Kong faces is to increase hiring in its tourism sector which has been severely affected by COVID-19 restrictions.
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