HONG KONG, April 20 (Xinhua) -- The global economic meltdown continued to batter the job market in Hong Kong with the city's latest unemployment rate hitting a three year high in the first quarter, revealed the Census and Statistics Department here Monday. Jobless rate in Hong Kong rose to 5.2 percent during January- March period from 5 percent in the December-February quarter while the underemployment rate stood at 2.1 percent in both quarters, according to the department. Attributing the further weakening labor market to the effect of the global economic downturn on local economy, the Census and Statistics Department forecast a worsening situation in coming months. Secretary for Labor and Welfare Matthew Cheung said the jobless rate will face upward pressure in the near term given the tough economic environment and weak labor market. "The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government is sparing no effort to ease rising unemployment and we are implementing the series of measures announced earlier to stabilize the financial system, support enterprises, preserve and create jobs," Cheung said. "We will closely monitor the employment situation and continue to enhance our employment services on all fronts," he said, adding that the Employees Retraining Board plans to provide a maximum of 143,000 training places this financial year to meet the growing demand. According to the Census and Statistics Department, total employment fell from 3,513,100 to 3,507,600 while the labor force rose from 3,685,100 to an all-time high of 3,694,900. The number of unemployed people surged from 172,000 to 187,200 while the number of underemployed people grew from 76,100 to 79, 200. Rises in the jobless rate were mainly found in the construction, transportation, accommodation services and financing sectors. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-04/20/content_11223102.htm Take a look over the "pond"!