Employment growth rebounds in second quarter but unemployment rises

Unemployment crept upwards even as employment growth rebounded to 15,700 in the second quarter of this year.
Unemployment crept upwards even as employment growth rebounded to 15,700 in the second quarter of this year.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Unemployment crept upwards even as employment growth rebounded in the second quarter of this year.

A total of 15,700 more people were employed in June compared with March, after the a fall of 6,100 in the previous quarter - the first time employment contracted since 2009.

The growth last quarter was slower than the 27,700 workers added a year ago, bringing the total number of people employed in Singapore to 3,633,500, according to preliminary figures released by the Manpower Ministry (MOM) on Thursday. It was led by the services and construction sectors, while employment in manufacturing continued to fall.

Unemployment rose after trending down over the past 12 months. The seasonally-adjusted rate was 2 per cent overall, from 1.8 per cent in the first quarter of the year. The rate for citizens 2.9 per cent, or 56,100 people.

MOM said in its report that this rise in unemployment "took place amid softer economic conditions".

Layoffs fell for the second consecutive quarter, with 3,100 people being made redundant from April to June, down from 3,500 from January to March. Of those who lost their jobs last quarter, 2,700 were retrenched and 400 were released early from their contracts.

The bulk of the layoffs were from the services sector, which let go of 2,000 workers.

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say responded to the statistics in a Facebook post on Thursday, in which he wrote that the slow employment growth was "not unexpected".

"We are slowing down the increase of foreign manpower and at the same time speeding up the development of a stronger Singaporean Core in all major sectors of our economy," he said.

He also said that he was tracking the unemployment figures closely and wants to ensure that the rising unemployment for citizens is not due to a skills and expectations mismatch between job seekers and employers.

"I am not taking any chances on this," he said, adding that his ministry would push hard for the SkillsFuture movement to create better career opportunities for Singaporeans.

"Our employment rate is one of the highest globally while our unemployment rate is one of the lowest. We must strive to keep it this way for as long as we can."