Despite spike in layoffs, unemployment stayed low in Q3: Manpower Ministry

December 16, 20141:58 pm285 views
Despite spike in layoffs, unemployment stayed low in Q3: Manpower Ministry
Despite spike in layoffs, unemployment stayed low in Q3: Manpower Ministry

SINGAPORE: Unemployment in Singapore remained low in the third quarter of 2014, despite an increase in layoffs, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Monday (Dec 15).

According to the ministry’s Labour Market report for the quarter, the overall seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate in September 2014 remained “low and steady” at 2 per cent. The unemployment rate for residents was 2.8 per cent, while it stood at 2.9 per cent for citizens.

More workers were laid off – 3,500 were made redundant in the third quarter, up from 2,410 in the preceding quarter and 2,710 in the third quarter of 2013, the MOM noted.

MOM said the services sector contributed to the bulk of the layoffs at 58 per cent, followed by manufacturing (36 per cent) and construction (5.9 per cent). Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) made up two in three of the residents laid off. The ministry said the layoffs come on the back of businesses restructuring.

Human resource experts said this is expected to fluctuate in the next couple of quarters because Singapore’s economy is open to changes in the global market. Mr Ian Grundy, head of marketing and communications for Asia at recruitment firm Adecco, said: “What is important is that the number of jobs being created continues to rise. At the moment, we are in this interesting situation where there are more jobs than there are job-seekers in the market. As long as that stays positive, going forward, I’m not too concerned about the redundancies changing slightly.”

The unemployment rate for mature workers has also gone up compared to a year ago – close to half of unemployed residents are aged 40 and above, and seven in 10 long-term unemployed residents are from that age bracket.

Ms Ho Geok Choo, chief executive of Human Capital Singapore, said: “I don’t think companies typically are averse to employing the more mature workers. I think the important thing is about the salary costs vis-a-vis the value of the job that the person is taken in for.

“The mature workforce will have to be realistic about their expectations. They cannot expect to draw their last-drawn salaries which would have grown because of their years of service with the organisation. For a new job that they take on, they should be prepared to start from the very beginning again.”

However, the rate of re-entry into employment within six months of redundancy improved for the second consecutive quarter. Based on CPF records, 55 per cent of the residents made redundant in the second quarter secured employment by September 2014, up from 53 per cent in June.

Long-term unemployment also improved, with the number of residents looking for work for 25 weeks or more falling to 10,800 – 0.5 per cent of the resident labour force – compared with 12,600 or 0.6 per cent a year ago, the MOM said.

The rate of within six months of redundancy, which refers to retrenchment and early release of employment contracts, has also improved. The ministry said that based on CPF records, 55 per cent of residents made redundant in the second quarter of this year managed to find jobs by September – an increase from 53 per cent in the previous cohort in June.

The seasonally-adjusted number of job vacancies fell 5.9 per cent from the previous quarter to 60,700 in September, according to the MOM report. Still, the number of job openings continued to outnumber job-seekers. The seasonally-adjusted ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons rose to 142 openings per 100 job seekers in September 2014, up from 136 in June 2014.

Total employment grew by 33,400 in the third quarter, higher than the increase of 27,700 in the preceding quarter and largely unchanged from the 33,100 a year ago. Total employment was 3.58 million, 3.8 per cent higher than a year ago and unchanged from the rate of growth in the previous quarter, according to the MOM.


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