How did the labour market perform last quarter?

Some sectors continue to experience “cyclical weakness” – HRD looks at winners and losers in Singapore’s economy

How did the labour market perform last quarter?

Singapore’s overall unemployment rate increased marginally in March this year (2.3%) compared to a quarter before (2.2%), according to preliminary figures from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

However, the unemployment rate remained unchanged among residents (3.2%) and citizens (3.5%) from the previous quarter.

Total employment declined by 8,500 in the first quarter of 2017, after growth of 2,300 in the previous quarter. The decline was mainly due to a decrease in work permit holders in the marine and construction sectors “which continue to experience weakness,” said MOM.

Layoffs dropped to 4,800 in the first three months this year, following an increase in the previous quarter (5,440 in total). The city-state saw lower redundancies in manufacturing, and slight increases in construction and services.

“With some sectors continuing to experience cyclical weakness, and as businesses continue to restructure, redundancies are expected to remain elevated,” said MOM.

Looking ahead, the ministry said the labour market outlooks is likely to remain uneven across sectors. The outlook for the global economy has improved slightly, “benefitting some outward-oriented sectors” in the Singapore economy, but downside risks and uncertainties remain.

“Hiring in some sectors remains cautious, but opportunities will continue to be available in others such as Healthcare, Infocomm, Finance & Insurance, and certain segments of Manufacturing,” said the ministry.

It will continue to prioritize support for displace or at risk through programmes under the “Adapt and Grow” initiative. These include the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) to support those switching careers, and Career Support Programme (CSP) to help displaced PMETs secure a quality job with employers.

At the same time, the tripartite partners will help businesses transform and grow through the Lean Enterprise Development Scheme and other initiatives,” the ministry added.


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