Long-term unemployment ticks up in Q3, fewer vacancies than job seekers

Office workers in the Central Business District (CBD) of Singapore.
Office workers in the Central Business District (CBD) of Singapore.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - More job seekers in Singapore took a longer time to find work in the third quarter of the year, even as the overall unemployment rate stayed low.

The long-term unemployment rate for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents rose to 0.8 per cent in September, up from 0.6 per cent in September last year .

This rate measures the proportion of residents unemployed for at least 25 weeks, out of the resident labour force.

Three in 10 of unemployed residents were long-term unemployed - the highest proportion observed for a September period since 2002, said the Manpower Ministry (MOM) in its official labour market data released on Tuesday (Dec 13).

The figures largely confirmed preliminary data that the ministry released in late October, which showed layoffs for the first nine months of the year at their highest level in seven years.

Job seekers continued to outnumber job vacancies for the second consecutive quarter, and there were 91 job openings for every 100 unemployed people as of September. This seasonally adjusted ratio was worse than the one in June, which saw 93 openings to 100 unemployed people.

Overall, the unemployment rate in September remained at 2.1 per cent after accounting for seasonal variations.

The rates for citizens and residents were 3 per cent and 2.9 per cent respectively, down from 3.1 per cent and 3 per cent in June.

A total of 3,670,700 people were employed here as of September, which was 2,700 fewer than the number working here in June. This was largely due to fewer work permit holders working in the manufacturing and construction sectors, said MOM.

It noted: "The subdued labour market performance for the (manufacturing) sector is likely to extend into the fourth quarter of 2016 as manufacturing firms expect to hire fewer workers, especially for transport and precision engineering."

On the other hand, hiring is expected to pick up in the services sector during the year-end festive season, the ministry said.

More workers were retrenched or had their contracts aborted in the third quarter of this year compared with the same period last year, and about three in four of residents affected were professionals, managers, executives and technicians.

In the first nine months of this year, 13,730 workers were laid off, the highest since the same period in 2009. Looking at retrenchments alone, 12,010 workers were affected from January to September.

Based on Central Provident Fund records, 49 per cent of residents laid off in the second quarter of this year were back in employment by September, an improvement from the re-entry rate of 45 per cent recorded in June.