Data from the the Ministry of Manpower's latest labour market report, revealed a steady labour market in Q3 2017 while predicting an increase in labour demand in 4Q 2017.

The advance release of the labour market report for 3Q 2017 by the Manpower Research and Statistics Department, found a quarter-on-quarter decline in seasonally adjusted unemployment rate - 2.2% in June to 2.1% in September. The citizen unemployment rate dropped slightly from 3.3% in June to 3.2% in September, while the resident unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.1%.

In line with that, employment has been picking up with total employment (excluding Foreign Domestic Workers) in Q3 2017, contracting by a smaller extent (-2,500) compared to 1Q 2017 (-9,400), 2Q 2017 (-7,900), and the same quarter a year ago (3Q 2016: -4,200).

This decline has been mainly attributed to a decrease in Work Permit Holders in marine and construction, a result of low oil prices and continued weakness in construction activities respectively.

However, the report noted that it was partly offset by the pickup in employment in the services sector including professional services, information & communications, administrative and support services, finance and insurance and accommodation.

The report also noted that a similar number of workers were retrenched in Q3 2017 (3,600) compared to the previous quarter (3,640). But, the number has dropped when compared to Q3 2016 (4,220).

In line with trends from previous years, the report expects labour demand to pick up in 4Q 2017 due to seasonal hiring.

It also noted that while hiring is expected to remain cautious in sectors such as construction and marine, job opportunities continue to be available in other sectors, particularly infocomms and media, finance and insurance, healthcare, professional services, and wholesale trade.

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