S'pore's unemployment rates decline for fourth straight month in February

Resident unemployment, which refers to Singapore citizens and permanent residents, declined to 4.1 per cent.
Resident unemployment, which refers to Singapore citizens and permanent residents, declined to 4.1 per cent.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Unemployment rates here continued to drop for the fourth consecutive month in February as the economy recovers.

The unemployment rate peaked in September last year and persisted through October, before falling steadily since November.

Singapore's employment situation has continued to improve, with declines seen across the overall unemployment rate, as well as the resident and citizen unemployment rates, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo on Wednesday (April 7).

A report by the Ministry of Manpower the same day revealed that the overall unemployment rate fell to 3.0 per cent in February, down from 3.2 per cent in January.

Resident unemployment, which refers to Singapore citizens and permanent residents, declined to 4.1 per cent, from 4.3 per cent in the preceding month.

Meanwhile, the citizen unemployment rate dropped from 4.5 per cent to 4.3 per cent.

Some 96,800 residents were unemployed in February this year, including 85,900 citizens. This is down from 101,900 unemployed residents in January, of whom 89,300 were citizens.

In a Facebook post, Mrs Teo said: "Although the unemployment rates remain elevated and have not yet returned to pre-Covid-19 levels, we are seeing good progress with jobs growth."

She noted that under the Jobs Growth Incentive, payouts were made to 27,000 employers, who collectively hired 130,000 locals in the first three months of scheme implementation.

"It is encouraging to see that Government support for employers to expand local hiring has nudged them to consider a more diverse group of job seekers. This includes those from different sectors, those who were previously not employed, and those aged 40 and above," she added.

However, Mrs Teo cautioned that with every dip in the unemployment rate, the next drop will likely be harder to achieve.

"It depends on whether hiring demand is sustained among employers, and their willingness to look beyond candidates with familiar profiles," she explained.

"The remaining job seekers too may need to consider job roles or sectors they previously did not, and be willing to invest time to re-skill."

Analysts told The Straits Times that business sentiment is picking up, with the effective management of the pandemic here allowing for more workers to return to their workplaces.

PeopleWorldwide Consulting managing director David Leong said that government support, such as the JGI, and policy tweaks that favour Singaporeans have also contributed to falling unemployment rates.

Mr Paul Heng, managing director of NeXT Career Consulting Group, said the beginning of the year typically sees businesses having fresh hiring budgets.

He noted that it is still too early “to categorically say that our economy is recovering”, as it is dependent on other countries.