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By Tony Lai


Stable F


22 FEBRUARY 2020


Though the economic outlook remains uncertain for the city, the local labour market is expected to remain stable with less liquidity


rice bo


or Ms. Chan, who is now working in a back office department in a resort operator, one of her New Year’s wishes is to have better luck in her career. “My colleagues and I are all overworked,” Chan, who is still in her twenties,


complained. “The works seem to never end, but our team is strained.” While her team did not have the budget for an additional headcount last year, she doesn’t think the situation will likely improve this year. “The profit forecast [for my company] and the industry as a whole does not change much [in 2020],” she added. What she said does not seem to be far from the reality of the local labour market. Amid the lingering economic uncertainties, pundits believe the city’s unemployment rate will remain at a low level this year but the labour demand, in particular some sectors, might become lower. From the continuous trade war between China and the


United States, to the slowing economy in Mainland China to other factors, Macau’s economy has shrunk for three consecutive quarters through September 30, marking the city entering a technical recession. Given the persistent lacklustre performance of the gaming industry – the gross gaming revenue declined by 2.4 percent year-on-year in the first 11 months of 2019 – the city’s gross domestic product (GDP) was likely to remain in the negative territory in the fourth quarter. Albeit, with the less than bright economic


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fundamentals in 2019, the labour market has so far remained stable. Latest government figures show the city’s unemployment rate has maintained at 2 percent or below since June 2012. “I don’t see any drastic rise in the unemployment rate in the near future, given the unbalance in the labour demand and supply,” said Jack Chang Chak Io, vice president of the Macau Association of Economic Sciences. “The labour market will remain stable, despite a possible little rise in the unemployment rate.”


Halting recruitment


Even if the economic outlook worsens in the future, the economic scholar does not believe there will not be any massive lay-offs. “As the licenses of the gaming operators are subject to renewal, the operators – one of the largest employers [here] – won’t risk sacking any staff in large-scale,” said Mr. Chang. He refers to the city’s six gaming concessions and sub-concessions, which will expire by 2022. Though the administration has yet to define any criteria for the renewal process, the officials have said the support for the local gaming workers, small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the community would be important. “But I’m aware that many gaming operators have


already halted the external recruitment procedures amid the current economic fundamentals,” said Mr. Chang.


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