As the country celebrates Chinese New Year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hopes the pickup in economic numbers towards the end of 2016 will continue into this year.
Giving his assessment of the economic outlook, Mr Lee said: "It is not so bad, because people are finding jobs and, overall, we have new jobs being created. Not as many as before, but enough so that Singaporeans are fully employed and people who come out from polytechnic, or ITE, or university, find jobs quite quickly."
The economy grew by 1.8 per cent last year, surpassing expectations, on the back of a rebound in manufacturing in the fourth quarter.
Last Saturday, after visiting Singapore's largest power plant Senoko Power Station, Mr Lee told reporters that the Government watches not just retrenchment numbers, but also keeps an eye on whether people are getting re-employed and finding jobs, as well as on whether overall employment numbers are going up.
Figures released last Thursday showed layoffs hit a seven-year high in 2016. But overall, the resident workforce grew by an estimated 10,700 people last year, up 0.5 per cent from the year before.
PM LEE ON SINGAPORE'S ECONOMY
It is not so bad, because people are finding jobs and, overall, we have new jobs being created. Not as many as before, but enough so that Singaporeans are fully employed and people who come out from polytechnic, or ITE, or university, find jobs quite quickly.
PRIME MINISTER LEE HSIEN LOONG, who voiced hopes that the pickup in the economy late last year will continue.
They entered mainly service jobs, such as in community and social services, professional services, and transport and storage.
Mr Lee had visited Senoko Energy workers on duty at the plant on the first day of Chinese New Year, accompanied by Mrs Lee, labour chief Chan Chun Sing, National Trades Union Congress president Mary Liew and leaders from the Union of Power and Gas Employees (Upage), as part of an annual tradition to thank workers in key services for keeping Singapore running over the holidays.
He noted that retrenchments happened because of ongoing economic restructuring, and the power sector, too, was not spared as it changed over the years. The former electricity and gas departments of the Public Utilities Board became Singapore Power in 1995, parts of which were then divested to become power-generation companies like Senoko Energy. The technology, too, has changed.
"Each time, more efficient; each time, better for Singaporeans. And sometimes, there were job losses. Often, there would be retraining and redeployment," said Mr Lee.
"Each time, it means change and disruption for the workers. But by working closely together with Upage, with successive generations of union leaders, we have been able to make the restructuring and advance on this journey."
He added: "There's a lot of mutual understanding and trust which has been built up, which has enabled us to do this, and I think we have to do that across the economy."
Mr Lee also met duty shift managers, team leaders, engineers and technical officers on duty, handed them mandarin oranges and hongbao, and joined them in tossing yu sheng to usher in the new year.
He noted that he visited Senoko Power Station many years ago, "so it was good to be back, to see the team working well, with new technology and in good spirits".
"We are relying on the team here and in the other plants in Singapore to keep our power supply... stable. Nobody else has to think about it but here, they are making sure it is okay," he added.
Mr Lee also said the strategic environments in the region and globally have gradually shifted, and Singaporeans should be aware of these changes.
The Committee on the Future Economy's report will be out soon, with constructive suggestions to help Singapore move forward, followed by the Budget, he added.
"We have a series of policies to help Singaporeans, while helping the Singapore economy to move forward," he said.