Unemployment rises among Singapore citizens, residents in Q2

August 1, 20169:16 am
Generic placeholder image

SINGAPORE: Amid weaker economic conditions, unemployment among Singapore citizens and residents rose in the second quarter, according to preliminary estimates released on Thursday (Jul 28) by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

Among citizens, the unemployment rate rose to 3.1 per cent in June, from 2.6 per cent in the previous quarter. Among residents, the rate rose to 3 per cent from 2.7 per cent in March. Overall, the unemployment rate was 2.1 per cent, up from 1.9 per cent in the first quarter.

An estimated 68,300 residents, including 60,300 Singapore citizens, were unemployed as of June, an increase from the 60,400 unemployed residents, including 50,800 citizens, in March.

EMPLOYMENT GROWTH SLOWS 

Total employment grew at a slower pace during the quarter, rising by 5,500 compared to 13,000 in the first quarter and 9,700 a year ago.

The services sector, which formed the bulk of total employment increases, grew by 8,600, slower than the 13,200 increase in the previous quarter. Employment in manufacturing continued its downward trend, declining by 3,400. Employment in the construction industry grew by 400, after increasing by 1,900 during the first quarter.

“Looking ahead, a subdued growth environment post-Brexit, domestic economic restructuring and slowing local labour force growth will likely constrain job creation,” said Ms Selena Ling, head of treasury research and strategy at OCBC Bank.

However, Ms Ling does not expect the unemployment rate to “deviate too far from the 2 per cent handle for now” as the Republic’s growth rate for the second half would likely remain sluggish like the first half, while foreign manpower restrictions are unlikely to be lifted in the near-term.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said at a media briefing on Monday that Singapore’s economic growth is expected to remain sluggish amid a lacklustre global outlook. The central bank expects the economy’s performance over the next six months to be unchanged from the first half of the year, where growth averaged at 2.2 per cent year-on-year.

MORE WORKERS LAID OFF

Retrenchments continued to rise, with about 5,500 workers laid off during the quarter, up from 4,710 in the first quarter and 3,250 a year ago, according to MOM.

The bulk of the layoffs – 62 per cent – came from the services sector, which retrenched 3,400 workers compared to 2,530 in the previous quarter. Layoffs in the manufacturing sector fell to 1,600 from 1,790, and stayed relatively unchanged in the construction industry with 400 layoffs from 390 in the previous quarter.

DBS senior economist Irvin Seah said more cracks are showing in the labour market: “Growth outlook remains dim. Though there has been an uptick in growth performance in the second quarter, the improvement was subdued. Pockets of risks remain in the global environment, which could impact Singapore adversely. With this latest set of manpower statistics, we expect more labour pain ahead.”