Singapore’s labour market improved slightly in the first quarter of 2018, with fewer retrenchments and the resident unemployment rate declining to its lowest level since March 2016, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Wednesday (Jun 13).
According to its latest labour market report, resident unemployment and long-term unemployment rates declined in March 2018. There were also significantly fewer retrenchments and more job vacancies in the first three months of the year.
There were fewer retrenchments in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the fourth quarter of 2017, at 2,320 compared to 3,680. Retrenchments were also at the lowest since the first quarter of 2013, at 2,120.
MOM said the decline was broad-based across manufacturing, construction and services and that the main reason for retrenchment continues to be business restructuring and reorganisation.
The six-month re-entry rate into employment of retrenched residents declined marginally to 61 per cent in the first quarter of the year, from 63 per cent in the previous quarter.
The decline was more notable among Professional, Managers, Executives & Technicians (PMETs), those with diploma and post-secondary qualifications, as well as those aged from 30 to 39, the ministry said.
Meanwhile, the re-entry rate rose among those aged below 30, aged 50 and over, and for those with secondary and below qualifications.
DECLINE IN RESIDENT UNEMPLOYMENT RATE
The decline in resident unemployment rate was due to those aged 30 and above, and those with post-secondary and degree qualifications, the report said.
Long-term unemployment rates also declined in this quarter, with “significantly fewer” retrenchments and more job vacancies, said the ministry.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined at the overall (2.1 per cent in December 2017 to 2 per cent in March 2018) and for residents (3 per cent to 2.8 per cent), and remained unchanged for citizens (3 per cent).
Meanwhile, total employment, excluding foreign domestic workers, grew slightly. The increase of 400 was a reversal from the decline in the first quarter of 2017.
MOM attributed this to employment growth in the services sectors offsetting declines in work permit holders in the construction and marine shipyard sectors.
The ministry said it expects overall labour demand to expand, although unevenly across sectors.
MOM said that job opportunities will be available in the finance and insurance, infocomms and media, healthcare, professional services, logistics and wholesale trade sectors. Hiring is expected to remain cautious in construction and marine shipyard sector.
To keep unemployment low, the ministry said it is critical to prepare workers and businesses to be “agile and responsive to economic restructuring and the evolving employment landscape”.
“MOM and Workforce Singapore will support workers in upgrading their skillsets for new opportunities through the Adapt and Grow initiative, while helping businesses to innovate and transform through the Lean Enterprise Development (LED) Scheme and the Capability Transfer Programme (CTP),” said MOM.