Unemployment for Singaporeans falls but more older workers jobless: MOM Q1 labour report

Office workers crossing the junction at Raffles Quay in Singapore on Feb 18, 2015.
Office workers crossing the junction at Raffles Quay in Singapore on Feb 18, 2015.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Unemployment for Singapore citizens and residents fell in the first quarter of this year, according to the Manpower Ministry's labour report released on Monday (June 13).

But older workers continued to bear the brunt of unemployment, even as fewer younger residents joined the labour force.

Jobs growth, driven mainly by services, also slowed from the last quarter.

Although layoffs fell from the high of the previous quarter, the number of workers let go was still the highest in any first quarter in the past seven years.

The unemployment rate fell from 3 per cent last quarter to 2.6 per cent for citizens, and from 2.9 per cent last quarter to 2.7 per cent for residents.

The overall unemployment rate remained unchanged at 1.9 per cent from last December.

An estimated 60,400 residents, including 50,800 Singapore citizens, were out of work in March this year. This was lower than 64,600 residents and 57,900 citizens last December.

More residents aged 30 and older were unemployed. Those aged 50 and above saw their jobless rate go up for the fourth quarter in a row, from 1.8 per cent last year to 2.2 per cent.

This increase was offset by the decline in unemployment rate for residents younger than 30. This was due to a lower participation rate in the labour force among youth aged 15 to 24.

The long term unemployment rate, for residents out of work for 25 weeks or more, crept up from 0.5 per cent last March to 0.7 per cent in March this year.

This group also made up a larger proportion of the jobless, with their share in resident unemployment rising from 21 per cent last March to 26 per cent - the highest in this quarter since 2005.

Employment growth slowed at 13,000 jobs from the seasonal high of 16,100 in the previous quarter. This, however, was still higher than the sharp contraction of 6,100 jobs in the same period last year.

Redundancies fell to 4,710 in the first quarter from 5,370 in the quarter before. This, however, was still 1,210 more people laid off than in the same period last year, and the highest first quarter layoffs since 2009.

It was also harder for unemployed residents to find jobs again.

Of the residents who lost their jobs in the fourth quarter last year, 46 per cent found work by this March, down from 57 per cent in the same period last year. It is the lowest quarterly showing since June 2009.

There were 50,000 seasonally adjusted job vacancies in March, a drop of 3,900 compared to the previous quarter. Half of these were for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs).