Hong Kong bosses in hiring mood and offering higher salaries, as city reopens and visitors return

Hong Kong companies are back in the mood to hire, especially in the consumer and information technology sectors, as the city embarks on its economic recovery following the border reopening with mainland China, according to a report by KPMG.

Two in five senior executives in Hong Kong expect to increase their headcount this year, according to KPMG’s salary outlook survey, which polled over 1,300 professionals across six sectors in Hong Kong and mainland China.

The six sectors covered in the January survey were consumer markets, information technology (IT), financial services, professional services, real estate and the civil service.

“The worst time of the pandemic is already behind us,” said Peter Shiu Ka-fai, who represents the retail industry constituency in Hong Kong’s legislature. “There is a strong demand to hire more people, and the manpower crunch is one of our biggest challenges. A (salary premium) of up to 20 per cent is no surprise for companies trying to attract new hires.”

The rush to fill vacancies pushed the city’s unemployment rate down to a three-year low of 3.3 per cent during the December to February rolling period, according to the Census and Statistics Department.

The consumer market sector, which covers restaurants and cafes, retail shops and hotels, is most in need of hiring, with 45 per cent of employers hanging up the “hiring” sign, compared with 28 per cent last year, KPMG said. Frontline staff and customer-facing roles are most urgently in need of filing, the survey said.

Staff in the consumer market sector were also better paid, receiving 2.4 months’ wages as bonus on average in 2022, up from 1.5 months in 2021, KPMG said. The industry benefited from the easing of social-gathering restrictions in Hong Kong and the distribution of consumption vouchers by the government, KPMG said.

A government initiative to pump HK$550 million (US$70.5 million) into throwing mega events from the performing arts to sports events and conferences – as well as a “Hello Hong Kong” charm offensive – also helped to attract business and leisure travellers back, bringing relief to the consumer sector, the survey said.

Uniqlo, the Japanese fast-fashion chain, raised the salary of 2,400 of its Hong Kong-based employees by up to 24 per cent in February, underscoring the dire need for labour as the city braced for the return of shoppers.

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