Hong Kong employers are not keen to hire staff in the first quarter of 2015, according to a survey conducted by human resources company Manpower Group.
Only 18 per cent of 801 Hong Kong employers interviewed said they expected an increase in their staffing levels in the first quarter, while 76 per cent of them said they saw no changes in employment, and 3 per cent predicted a decrease in staff levels.
Manpower said its Hong Kong's Net Employment Outlook (NEO), calculated by subtracting those employers who plan to reduce staffing levels from those who plan to hire, stands at +15 per cent - unchanged compared with the previous quarter and remaining relatively stable year-over-year.
Employers in the manufacturing sector reported an NEO of +6 per cent for the second consecutive quarter - down by 7 percentage points compared with a year earlier.
"Despite a slight increase in the most recent PMI (Purchasing Managers Index), the client order demand on the mainland was notably weak. It weakens the confidence of employers and slows down hiring," said Lancy Chui Yuk-shan, regional managing director of Manpower Group's Greater China operations.
The service sector's NEO stands at +19 per cent - 4 per cent down over the previous quarter.
"Staff expectations in the catering, healthcare and IT services fields have strengthened overall. However, employers continue to be challenged by talent shortages in the industry," Chui said.
"Talent deficits exist in the service-related areas, particularly in catering, cleaning services and healthcare," she said.
Optimistic hiring plans were reported in the mining and construction sectors, with their NEO standing at +25 per cent - the highest since the first quarter of 2012. Hiring prospects increased by 3 per cent quarter-on-quarter and 8 per cent year-on-year.
"More than 74,000 housing units have been projected for development by government statistics. As such, employers in the mining and construction sectors are reporting positive hiring intentions for both housing and infrastructure," Chui explained.
"For the first time in many years, we're actually seeing an increasing number of the younger generation joining the industry due to more attractive salaries and benefits on offer. However, the tough working environment takes its toll as many young people do not stay long," she added.
Manpower Group releases its NEO survey quarterly to measure employers' intentions to increase or decrease the number of employees in their workforce in the next quarter. The company polled more than 65,000 employers in 42 economies.