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Pandemic or diversification. One of them changed jobs

The unemployment rate continues to decline, but slowly. That of residents remains identical to the previous quarter. The branches of economic activity are changing: traditional sectors employ less, while others are growing and now represent 1/5 of employment

Guilherme Rego

Unemployment continues to decline. In the last quarter (July-September) it fell 0.1 percent, according to the Directorate of Statistics and Census Services (DSEC). Currently, the unemployment rate stands at 2.4 percent – further away from returning to the 2022 record, where unemployment rates for residents and young residents were 5.4 percent and 15.5 percent, respectively. .

However, compared to the same pre-pandemic period (July to September 2019), there is still a way to go. At that time, unemployment stood at 1.8 percentage points.
Non-residents gain

It should be noted that the unemployment rate among residents (3.1 percent) did not change compared to the previous quarter, that is, the decrease in unemployment in the quarter under analysis is not due to the hiring of local residents.

The employed population stood at 369,300 people and the number of employed residents reached 286,800 people, 3,300 and 1,700 more, respectively, compared to the previous period. The unemployed population was made up of 9,100 people, minus 200.

This means, according to these data, that the number of non-resident workers (TNR) living in Macau is 82,500 – in 2019 there were 106 thousand TNR in the Macao SAR. These numbers contradict the most recent data from the Labor Affairs Bureau (DSAL), which points to more than 170 thousand TNR in Macau since August. The discrepancy can be justified by the high number of TNR who live in neighboring cities and travel to Macau daily to work.

The median salary also increased for non-residents – from 17,000 to 18,000 patacas -, while it remained the same for residents (20,000).

Employer industries

Among the industries that supported the decrease in the unemployment rate in this last quarter, the gaming sectors and hotels and similar sectors stand out, which employed an additional 2.6 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively. Gaming-related activities now employ 71,000 people and the hospitality industry employs 26,100.

The construction sector also saw slight growth (0.2 percent), now employing 27,900 workers.

Wholesale and retail trade and restaurants and similar products fell by 1.2 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively. These industries employ 47,300 and 20,700 people.

New Business

Although the sectors of activity detailed by DSEC show, for the most part, growth in the face of the pandemic, the reality is that they all employ less compared to 2019 (see graphs no. 1 and no. 2).

The only branch of activity that actually employs more proportionately is “Others”, which now represents 20 percent of the workforce. This category represents six different industries: Manufacturing industries; production and distribution of electricity, gas and water; financial activities; education; health and social action; and other activities related to the gaming industry – outside of lotteries, other gambling and gaming promotion activities.

When asked about the number of workers employed in these six categories, DSEC indicated that it only had data for the second quarter of this year. In this quarter, the industry with the largest number of workers was health and social action, which includes public and private hospitals and clinics. This sector increased from 4.6 to 4.9 percent from the first to the second quarter of 2023.

In second place is the financial activities sector, which saw its percentage within the total increase slightly, from 3.6 to 3.7 percent in the same period.

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