More job losses expected despite improved unemployment rate: MOM

April 29, 201611:56 am302 views
More job losses expected despite improved unemployment rate: MOM
Office workers at Raffles Place. TODAY file photo

SINGAPORE — While the jobless rate among Singaporeans and permanent residents has improved compared with three months ago, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) echoed the central bank’s warning of job losses creeping up in future, given the twin challenges of cyclical weakness in the market and a restructuring economy.

Preliminary data on the labour market from January to March this year that was released on Thursday (April 28) showed several bright spots, including an on-year rebound in employment growth, the overall seasonally adjusted unemployment rate holding steady at 1.9 per cent, and fewer layoffs.

Nevertheless, the MOM said: “Amid the cyclical weakness and as the economy restructures, some consolidation and exit of businesses are expected, contributing to redundancies. While unemployment remains low and has declined for locals, the MOM is closely monitoring the current economic and labour market situation, and is working closely with tripartite partners to strengthen employment support to help displaced locals re-enter employment.”

In its latest biannual Macroeconomic Review report on Wednesday, the Monetary Authority of Singapore warned that overall resident wage growth is expected to slow, as employment demand wanes and tightness in the labour market reduces.

The central bank also said jobless numbers are likely to edge up.

The MOM’s latest labour data showed that unemployment is hitting fewer Singaporeans and permanent residents, though this was largely because there were fewer youths aged 15 to 24 looking for jobs.

Compared with December last year, the jobless rate for this group was 2.7 per cent, an improvement of 0.2 percentage points. For Singaporean workers alone, the unemployment rate dipped 0.4 percentage points to 2.6 per cent.

Total employment from January to March also grew by 11,400, reversing the 6,100 contraction in the same period last year. The growth in the first quarter was, however, lower than the seasonally high growth in the preceding three months (16,100).

The services sector accounted for the bulk of this growth (11,900), but also let go of the most number of workers (2,500). Employment growth in the construction sector increased by 1,600.

The manufacturing sector continued its sixth straight quarter of decline (-2,000), although at a lower rate as compared with the previous five quarters (-4,700 on average).

In total, 3,667,600 held jobs, 1.4 per cent higher than the same time last year. The increase was also better than the 0.9 per cent growth registered in December last year.

The number of workers laid off or released prematurely from term contracts eased to 4,600 from 5,370 in December, but the figure is still higher than the 3,500 in March 2015. The number of workers who lost jobs in manufacturing and construction slid to 1,800 and 300, respectively.

In his May Day message this year — his first since assuming the portfolio — Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say on Wednesday called for efforts to become a more manpower-lean economy and for a more productive workforce to be accelerated, otherwise manpower could become the bottleneck of Singapore’s future growth.

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