Slower employment growth in first quarter, slight rise in unemployment

Employment grew more slowly and unemployment edged up in the first three months of 2013, according to preliminary figures released on Tuesday by the Manpower Ministry.

Against a backdrop of "continued weakness in the economy and the foreign worker tightening measures", employment grew by 20,800 workers in the first quarter.

This brought total employment to 3.38 million in March 2013, up 3.8 per cent from a year ago. But employment growth was still lower than 44,000 in the preceding quarter, and was the lowest first-quarter gain since the 2009 recession.

The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate edged up to 1.9 per cent in March 2013, from 1.8 per cent in December 2012.

The unemployment rate for residents - citizens and Permanent Residents - rose 2.9 per cent from 2.7 per cent previously. But citizen unemployment stayed unchanged at 2.9 per cent.

However, fewer workers lost their jobs. An estimated 2,000 workers were laid off in the first quarter, down from 3,350 in the previous quarter. This was also lower than the 2,600 laid off in the first quarter of 2012.