Unemployment rate stable in Q3 but total employment takes dip: Manpower Ministry

The unemployment rate in Singapore remained stable over the third quarter of the year, but total employment fell for the second time since the 2009 global financial crisis.
The unemployment rate in Singapore remained stable over the third quarter of the year, but total employment fell for the second time since the 2009 global financial crisis.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - The unemployment rate in Singapore remained stable over the third quarter of the year, but total employment fell for the second time since the 2009 global financial crisis.

The number of people employed here shrank by 3,300 between June and September this year, bringing Singapore's total employment to 3,670,200, according to preliminary data released by the Manpower Ministry on Thursday (Oct 27).

This was just 0.8 per cent higher than a year ago as workforce growth has been slowing over the past year. Manufacturing continued to shed workers for the eighth consecutive quarter, while the construction sector also reduced employment amid fewer private sector projects. Work permit holders were the main workers affected in both cases, said the ministry.

The overall unemployment rate remained unchanged at the end of the third quarter at 2.1 per cent, after taking into account peak periods such as school holidays.

For Singaporeans, the rate improved slightly to 3 per cent as of September, down from 3.1 per cent in June, while the rate for Singaporeans and permanent residents combined also went down slightly to 2.9 per cent, from 3 per cent.

Layoffs - which include retrenchments and aborted contracts - fell slightly in the third quarter to 4,100, down from 4,800 in the preceding quarter. But with "subdued global economic conditions and internal economic restructuring", more workers were affected than the 3,460 who lost their jobs a year ago, said the Manpower Ministry.

The construction sector saw an increase in redundancies from 350 in the second quarter to 600 in the third, while the manufacturing and services sectors saw declines.

Earlier this week, the Monetary Authority of Singapore cautioned that the country's economy is not expected to improve significantly next year.

It also highlighted the skills mismatches which are leaving laid-off workers struggling to find new jobs. Only about four in 10 resident professionals, managers, executives and technicians who lost their jobs in the first three months of the year managed to find a job by June, despite more than half the job openings in the first half of the year being targeted at their skill level.