The number of non-resident workers in Macau’s gaming sector fell by nearly half between the end of January 2020 and the end of October this year, said on Wednesday the head of the city’s Labour Affairs Bureau, Wong Chi Hong. The data cover employees at the six casino operators, but exclude staff in related construction projects.
Mr Wong was speaking at the city’s Legislative Assembly, in a session about upcoming economic and financial policies, following last week’s Policy Address for the Fiscal Year 2023.
As of October 31 this year, the Macau gaming sector had 18,514 non-resident workers. At the end of January 2020 – around the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic – the sector had employed in aggregate 35,288 such workers, meaning that in the interim, the tally had fallen by 16,744, or 47.5 percent, according to figures provided by Mr Wong.
That equated during the 33 months between February 2020 to October this year, to an average of about 500 non-resident workers per month exiting the sector.
The Labour Affairs Bureau’s Mr Wong told the assembly that the city government’s principle remained that Macau ID holders should have priority for job positions.
It has been a long-standing policy of successive Macau administrations since handover, that casino dealer jobs should be reserved for Macau ID holders. The authorities have also encouraged casino operators to promote locals to higher positions where possible, rather than to seek to import management-level labour.
Mr Wong said in his Wednesday comments, that where Macau ID holders were willing and able to take up a particular post, then employers would not be given permission to hire a non-resident worker for such a role. Equally, if a non-resident worker were already in a position suitable for a Macau ID holder, then an employer would not be permitted to renew the non-resident’s work permit upon its expiry.
According to data from Macau’s Statistics and Census Service, for the first quarter of 2020, the unemployment rate among Macau ID holders had stood at 2.9 percent, up 0.3 percentage points from the fourth quarter 2019; while the general unemployment rate stood at 2.1 percent.
In the third quarter this year – the most recent available data – unemployment among Macau ID holders stood at 5.2 percent, down by 0.3 percentage points quarter-on-quarter; and the general unemployment rate was 4.0 percent.
A number of industry commentators recently told GGRAsia that – in order for Macau to pursue its public policy objective of diversifying its tourism source markets beyond mainland China – it would in likelihood still need to import some foreign labour with skills necessary to serve such foreign clientele.
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