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Thursday, 17 January, 2002, 15:09 GMT
Hong Kong unemployment surges
Hong Kong skyline
Several Hong Kong companies are continuing to cut jobs
By the BBC's Hong Kong correspondent Damian Grammaticas

Unemployment in Hong Kong has surged to its highest point in two years.

This latest rise in unemployment in Hong Kong is new evidence that Asia's economies, outside of mainland China, are still faring badly.

In the last quarter of 2001, unemployment in Hong Kong rose faster than expected, surging from 5.8% to 6.1%, its highest point in two years.

Hong Kong's Financial Secretary Antony Leung was candid in his response.

September blow

Unemployment is at serious levels he said, the economy is not doing well, and the numbers out of work may swell further in the coming months.

The United States and China are Hong Kong's two biggest trading partners.

Government officials say the bad news is evidence of the continuing impact of last September's attacks on New York and Washington.

Already this year several major companies based in the territory have announced fresh job cuts as they try to weather the downturn.

They include, the telecoms firm Motorola, the Bank of East Asia, and a subsidiary of one of Hong Kong's biggest conglomerates Swire Pacific.

The hope locally is that China's recent entry to the World Trade Organisation may be the lifeline that helps pull Hong Kong back from its second recession in three years.

See also:

17 Jan 02 | Business
Hong Kong entrepreneurs struggle on
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