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Hong Kong's jobless rate at near 3-year high

HONG Kong's unemployment rate rose to a 32-month high because of staff cuts by firms reducing costs to weather the city's deepening recession.

The seasonally-adjusted jobless rate for the three months through February climbed to 5 percent, the government said yesterday on its Website, from 4.6 percent at the end of January. That was more than the 4.9-percent median estimate of 13 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Walt Disney Co, the second-largest United States media firm, said yesterday that it was shedding staff in the city. The government has pledged to create about 120,000 jobs by quickening infrastructure spending, subsidizing employers for new hires and setting up temporary government positions.

"Although the government has pledged a massive job creation program, the timing and the scale of the scheme is uncertain and much will depend upon the response of the private sector," said Joanne Yim, chief economist at Hang Seng Bank Ltd in Hong Kong. "With more employers likely to shed jobs in the coming months, the unemployment rate may climb to as high as 7 percent this year.''


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