Hong Kong people take part in a Nepalese folk dance with performers. Photo: HK Government

Poverty among ethnic minorities in Hong Kong has been getting worse, as the poverty rate in that sector had gone up 3.6 percentage points in five years as of 2016.

According to the government’s Hong Kong Poverty Situation Report on Ethnic Minorities 2016 released on Wednesday, the poverty rate among ethnic minorities jumped from 15.8% in 2011 to 19.4% in 2016.

The ethnic-minority population stood at 254,700 in 2016 (excluding foreign domestic workers). South Asians were the largest ethnic group (78,000 persons), followed by the mixed population (58,500 persons), whites (55,900 persons) and others such as Filipinos and Indonesians.

There were 22,400 poor ethnic-minority households and 49,400 poor people from ethnic minorities. South Asians accounted for 40.6% of poor members of ethnic minorities, one-fifth of them Pakistanis.

Working poverty was common, as 64.7% of poor ethnic-minority individuals resided in working households, higher than the 50.3% working-poor figure for the overall poor population in the city.

More than half (50.5%) of poor ethnic-minority individuals resided in four-person-and-above households, while the corresponding proportion for the overall poor population in Hong Kong was only 34.4%.

The report also showed that ethnic minorities are subject to higher poverty risks due to their socio-economic characteristics. They have lower employment earnings because of lower education and skill levels.

Their households are generally large, and employed family members have to shoulder the financial burden alone, which makes it difficult for them to move out of poverty. The situation particularly worse among South Asians.

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said the government would roll out a Low-Income Working Allowance to alleviate the situation of the working poor among ethnic minorities, but didn’t say when.