More people lost jobs last year, with manufacturing and services hit hardest

An elderly man walking in the Central Business District area in Singapore.
An elderly man walking in the Central Business District area in Singapore.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - More people were laid off last year than the year before, a Manpower Ministry report on redundancy released on Wednesday (April 20) showed.

A total of 15,580 workers were laid off last year, 2,650 more than in 2014 and the fifth year in a row that redundancies rose. The overall unemployment rate, however, remained low at 1.9 per cent.

Layoffs rose in all broad sectors last year, in particular manufacturing. The fall in global oil prices and a slowdown in demand in the marine and construction sectors caused the industry to shed 5,210 workers, 1,240 more than in 2014.

Services were also hard hit with 8,510 jobs lost, 1,250 more than the year before.

Layoffs also edged up in construction for the third year in a row from 1,690 to 1,780, owing to a drop in construction demand from both the public and private sector.

Wholesale trade and financial services also showed a rise in redundancies.

Those aged 40 and over made up the majority of residents who lost their jobs, at 65 per cent.

Professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) also remained more vulnerable to redundancy and took longer to find new jobs, in a pattern that has been observed since 2012.

PMETs experienced 8,550 layoffs last year, up from 6,530. They were also more at risk of redundancy, with about nine out of every 1,000 employees losing their jobs, compared to less than 7.5 per 1,000 for other groups.

Residents also took longer to find work after being made redundant. Central Provident Fund (CPF) records showed that 66 per cent of residents who lost their jobs in the first nine months of last year found new work by last December, down from 68 per cent in 2014.

Eight in ten residents took about three months or less to re-enter employment, again broadly similar to past years.

Seventy per cent of those who secured new jobs found them in a different industry from before, with wholesale and retail trade and administrative and support services being the most likely areas with vacancies.

Firms cited on-going business restructuring combined with a softer economy as key reasons for retrenching workers last year.

oliviaho@sph.com.sg