A total of 23,300 workers in Macau’s gaming industry – which includes casinos, junkets and lotteries – were reported as part of the city’s underemployed population in the third quarter of 2022. That was up 19,200 quarter-on-quarter, according to Macau’s latest employment survey, published last Friday by the city’s Statistics and Census Service.
A community outbreak of Covid-19 in Macau, which started on June 18 and took more than a month for the authorities to bring under control, saw a 12-day shutdown in July of the city’s casinos as a precaution. Because it was a government-mandated closure, casinos were not obliged to pay wages during that period.
The statistics bureau considers the underemployed those “who work involuntarily for less than 35 hours” per week, “and are available to take on additional work”.
The number of people employed in Macau’s gaming industry in the third quarter declined by nearly 4.6 percent sequentially, to about 66,400. At the end of June, there were 69,600 workers in the city’s gaming sector, according to the statistics bureau.
The gaming sector accounted for 18.3 percent of Macau’s employed population in the reporting period, showed the data.
Macau’s underemployment rate rose 12.4 percentage points quarter-on-quarter, to 16.5 percent in the three months to September 30. It represented about 62,500 people, of which 37.2 percent were engaged in gaming.
Before the July shutdown, casino operators were already offering their respective staff incentives to stay away from the workplace. A number of the schemes had been in use – on an opt-in basis – amid the stop-start nature of tourism demand linked to Covid-19 alerts in mainland China and in Macau.
According to the data collected by the statistics bureau, the main reason for underemployment in Macau was being “placed on unpaid leave or partially paid leave by the company”, accounting for 81.9 percent of the total, up by 36.3 percentage points quarter-on-quarter. It was followed by “slack business or low season” (10.1 percent of the total) and “unable to find other job” (5.0 percent).
Macau’s overall unemployment rate stood at 4.0 percent in the third quarter, up by 0.3 percentage points quarter-on-quarter. That was “owing to the resurgence of coronavirus cases in June, coupled with a sluggish job market and the entering of fresh graduates into the labour market,” stated the statistics bureau.
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