SINGAPORE: The Republic’s unemployment rate remained low and trended down over the past four quarters as the labour market remained tight, announced the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in a press release on Saturday (May 2).
The ministry said that there were fewer layoffs across major industries, and lower unemployment for citizens and residents in the first quarter of 2015. And while employment continued to grow, it was at a slower pace than the seasonal high at the end of last year.
These were the preliminary findings from the “Employment Situation, First Quarter 2015” report released by the Manpower Research and Statistics Department, MOM.
UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DIPS SLIGHTLY
Preliminary estimates from the Manpower Ministry showed that the overall seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dipped from 1.9 per cent in December 2014 to 1.8 per cent in March 2015.
Similarly, the unemployment rate fell over the quarter for residents from 2.7 per cent to 2.5 per cent, and for citizens from 2.7 per cent to 2.6 per cent, MOM said.
EMPLOYMENT UP 2.9 PER CENT
Employment in March 2015 grew by 2.9 per cent, bringing the total number of persons in employment to 3,624,200, said MOM. On a quarter-on-quarter basis, overall employment growth in the first quarter of 2015 moderated from the seasonally high increase in the fourth quarter of 2014, it added.
The ministry said: “While employment growth has slowed, the labour market remains tight and vacancies continue to outnumber jobseekers. This is also evident from the low and continued downward trend of the unemployment rate. This may be reflective of the anticipated slowing of the local labour supply going forward.”
LAYOFFS DOWN IN Q1 2015
Layoffs declined in the first quarter of 2015, after rising in the preceding quarter, said MOM. About 3,500 workers were made redundant in Q1 2015, fewer than in the preceding quarter (3,910), but slightly higher than the first quarter of 2014 (3,110).
FIGURES FROM REPORT SHOW SLOWING GROWTH OF LOCAL LABOUR FORCE: TAN CHUAN-JIN
In a Facebook post, Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said the figures are early signs of the slowing growth of the local labour force as baby boomers start to retire and smaller cohorts of young Singaporeans join the workforce.
With foreign workforce growth slowing, he emphasised that companies will have to operate with fewer workers.
This means redesigning jobs to increase the value-add of every worker, investing in skills deepening and technology, as well as finding new manpower-lean models of business to grow their topline.
On a cautionary note, he said fluctuations will happen as the economy restructures and redundancies increase from time to time. But when companies stay competitive and viable, they will continue to generate good opportunities for Singaporeans.
COMPANIES NEED TO DEVELOP STRONG STRATEGIES FOR 2015: ANALYSTS
Human resource consultancy Adecco weighed in on the report, noting that with a 2.9 per cent growth in employment and a slight dip in unemployment, it is “very promising.”
It added that Singapore’s labour market will become even tighter in 2015.
“While the number of jobs available outnumber jobseekers, companies need to develop strong strategies with HR and their operations to retain their top talent but also discover tomorrow’s talent,” an Adecco spokesperson said. “We advise them to develop attractive incentives, good training and increase their number of interns”
Adecco added that demand in Singapore’s service sector will remain high. “Job creation is expected to fill the demand due to Singapore’s 50th anniversary celebrations,” said Adecco.
On the contrary, demand in the manufacturing sector has decreased. Adecco said it believes this is due to “strong restructuring”, which will see the industry becoming less reliant on labour, but focusing more on productivity and high end products.
Another analyst said overall global growth is not that healthy currently – and this will have a bearing on wage growth.
Said Mr Jeff Ng, Economist, Global Research at Standard Chartered Bank: “We are neither in a boom or a bust but overall demand is not that huge as well – so that may have some constraints on overall wage growth. I think, given (that) global growth is not expected to accelerate much over the next few years, there could be some downside risks on overall wage growth in the coming years as well.”
news source & image credits: channelnewsasia.com