Layoffs, jobless rates rise amid sluggish economy

Office crowd in Central Business District (CBD).
Office crowd in Central Business District (CBD). ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

Reflecting slowing economic conditions, workers here faced a gloomy labour market in the second quarter of the year, with unemployment and layoffs rising.

Job vacancies, which have been falling since last year, went below the number of job seekers for the first time since 2012.

These sobering figures were released by the Manpower Ministry yesterday.

The unemployment rate rose to 2.1 per cent in June from 1.9 per cent in March.

Among Singaporeans, the rate rose to 3.1 per cent from 2.6 per cent in the same period. When combined with the data for permanent residents, the rate went to 3 per cent from 2.7 per cent.

These rates are adjusted for such seasonal factors as Chinese New Year and school holidays.

Looking at the first six months of the year, more workers were asked to go than in the same period last year.

In all, 9,510 workers were retrenched or had their contracts aborted, a new peak since the global financial crisis in 2009.

One bright spot was that labour productivity rose by 0.8 per cent in the first half of the year compared with the same period last year.

At the same time, employment growth was greater.

The ministry said it expects labour demand to stay modest for the rest of the year and for layoffs to rise in sectors with weak external demand and in those undergoing restructuring.

Joanna Seow

SEE TOP OF THE NEWS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2016, with the headline 'Layoffs, jobless rates rise amid sluggish economy'. Print Edition | Subscribe