HK poverty rate rises, govt blames protesters - RTHK
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HK poverty rate rises, govt blames protesters

2020-12-23 HKT 19:04
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  • The government blamed the worst poverty situation on record last year on the anti-government protests and rising Sino-US trade tensions. File photo: RTHK
    The government blamed the worst poverty situation on record last year on the anti-government protests and rising Sino-US trade tensions. File photo: RTHK
The government said on Wednesday that Hong Kong's poverty rate reached a record high last year, and that the protests were a major reason why.

In its annual poverty report, the administration said 21.4 percent of residents were considered to be poor in 2019, up one percentage point from the previous year.

The number exceeded the previous record in 2009, when the poverty rate was at 20.6 percent.

The report said that last year, 1.49 million of Hong Kong's total population of 7.52 million were under the poverty line – set at 50 percent of median monthly household income before any government allowances or subsidies.

The administration blamed the deteriorating situation on last year's anti-government protests and Sino-US trade tensions, saying the "double whammy" caused the SAR's first economic recession in a decade.

"The unrest caused severe disruptions and battered sectors related to consumption and tourism that involved substantial lower-skilled jobs. Grassroots families were particularly hard-hit," it said, adding that the labour market slackened noticeably in the second half of 2019.

When taking into account the effect of its recurrent measures to help the poor, the government says the poverty rate was at 15.8 percent last year, up 0.9 percentage points from 2018.

That works out at 1.1 million people still struggling despite the financial assistance, an increase of 73,500.