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Unemployment rates in Singapore declined in Q1 2018

In Singapore’s latest Ministry of Manpower (MOM) Labour Market Report Advance Release First Quarter 2018, preliminary data in 1Q 2018 showed that unemployment rates declined.

Other than that, the report also shared results on employment and retrenchment - with total employment showing a decline by a smaller extent compared to the same period a year ago. The decline was due largely to the continued contraction in construction and marine shipyard, and affected mostly work permit holders. Additionally, retrenchments were also lower in 1Q 2018 compared to the preceding quarter and compared with a year ago.

Unemployment rates declined over the quarter

Since March 2017, unemployment rates have continued to fall. Quarter-on-quarter, the seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rate declined from 2.1% (December 2017) to 2.0% (March 2018; and resident unemployment rate fell from 3.0% to 2.8%. However, citizen unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.0%.

Total employment declined by a smaller extent

According to the report, the total employment (excluding foreign domestic workers) contracted by 2,100 in the first quarter this year, after a seasonal increase in 4Q 2017. The decline in 1Q 2018 was due largely to a decrease in work permit holders in construction and marine shipyard.

However, the decline was smaller than the same period a year ago, as the contraction in both sectors moderated.

Within services; sectors such as community, social and personal services, financial and insurance, information and communications; and transportation and storage continued to see employment increase.

Retrenchments declined over the quarter

On another note, the number of retrenchments in 1Q 2018 (2,100) was  lower than both the preceding quarter (3,680) and the same period a year ago (4,000). Retrenchments declined over the quarter in manufacturing, construction and services.

In the release, it said: “Supported by the sustained expansion in economic activity, the labour market improved slightly in 1Q 2018. Job opportunities will continue to be available in the manufacturing sector as well as the services sectors, particularly infocomms and media, Financial and Insurance, healthcare, professional services, logistics and wholesale trade.”

“However, hiring is expected to remain cautious in sectors such as construction and marine shipyard,” it continued.

The report also stated that further improvement will be harder to achieve despite unemployment rates having declined from a year ago. It said: “Addressing potential job-skills mismatches remains critical, as the economy restructures and the profile of the resident labour force evolves.”

“MOM and Workforce Singapore will keep up efforts to help businesses transform and grow through the Lean Enterprise Development (LED) Scheme and the Capability Transfer Programme (CTP), and support workers to upgrade their skills and secure better employment outcomes through the Adapt and Grow initiative,” it concluded.

Photo / 123RF

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