Singapore's resident unemployment rate falls for 7th straight month

Unemployment among Singapore citizens dropped to 4 per cent in May, from 4.1 per cent in the preceding month. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - Singapore's labour market continued to recover in May, latest figures from the Ministry of Manpower showed on Thursday (July 1).

The resident unemployment rate, which covers Singapore citizens and permanent residents, fell for the seventh consecutive month. It declined to 3.8 per cent, from 3.9 per cent in the preceding month.

Meanwhile, unemployment among Singapore citizens also dropped to 4 per cent, from 4.1 per cent previously.

The overall unemployment rate fell to 2.8 per cent, from 2.9 per cent in April.

About 88,600 residents were unemployed in May, including 79,000 citizens. This is down from 92,100 unemployed residents, including 82,800 citizens, in April.

Singapore's unemployment rates peaked in September last year and persisted through October before falling steadily since November.

The downward trend of unemployment rates is a good sign that the labour market is steadily improving, said Manpower Minister Tan See Leng.

"However, we remain cautiously optimistic about the situation as we continue to see resurgence of the virus globally and have also yet to see the full impact of phase two (heightened alert) restrictions, which began in mid-May," said Dr Tan in a Facebook post on Thursday.

He added that the road to recovery may be a long one.

"As we restructure and rejuvenate our economy so that we can create good jobs, I urge businesses to tap on available support such as the Jobs Growth Incentive to expand local hiring, as well as existing schemes to innovate and transform their work processes," he said. "At the same time, I want to encourage our jobseekers, who have continuously shown resilience and willingness to try out new roles and sectors during this difficult time."

Jobseekers who need help with their job search can approach Workforce Singapore and the National Trades Union Congress' Employment and Employability Institute.

The Manpower Ministry and Workforce Singapore will continue to work with the various economic agencies to create new opportunities and match workers to them, said Dr Tan. "Together, we will press on, towards the road to recovery."

Analysts told The Straits Times that the business outlook continues to be encouraging. But they highlighted many uncertainties brought about by the resurgence of the virus overseas as well as Singapore's heightened alert status.

NeXT Career Consulting Group managing director Paul Heng said companies have persisted in their hiring activities since the start of the year, spurred on by the various government interventions to manage the coronavirus outbreak.

"It is early days yet to say for sure if this is due to the state of the economic recovery, as some of the major economies are still struggling to cope with subsequent waves of infections," he added.

PeopleWorldwide Consulting managing director David Leong said the crucial part is the job facilitation and wage support that held up jobs for Singaporeans.

"Without such proactive intervention, these numbers may not hold up," he added.

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