Singapore labour market went through its roughest patch in 2016. The condition is shown in the official full-year data released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Wednesday (15 Mar).
Unemployment rose, and employment grew at a slower pace while rate of re-entry into employment among residence made redundant also fell.
The number of job vacancies fell, lowering the job openings to job seekers ratio and layoffs increased as well, continuing an uptrend since 2010.
While the bright spot was that employment growth for locals increased, as 11,200 more were in jobs at the end of 2016, up from just 700 the year before. However, as Mr Leong Sze Hian puts it. It is uncertain how many of the 11,200 additional jobs went to existing Singaporeans, given the national policy to introduce 30,000 new Permanent residents and 20,000 new citizens each year.
This brought total employment to 3,673,100 at the end of last year.
The annual average unemployment rate in 2016 increased to 2.1 percent overall, up from 1.9 percent the year before.
For Singaporeans, it rose to 3.1 percent, up from 2.9 percent, while for Singaporeans and permanent residents combined, it rose to 3 percent from 2.8 percent.
The number of workers who were retrenched or had their contracts aborted also rose. Redundancies increased to 19,170 last year, many caused by business restructuring.
Residents who were back in work within six months after losing their jobs was only 47.9 percent on average, the first time in at least five years it fell below half.
More locals were employed in 2016 but the foreign workforce, excluding the domestic workers, decreased by 2,500.
MOM said this was caused by the fall in the number of work permit holders in the manufacturing, marine and construction sectors due to weakening global economic conditions and a fall in private sector construction projects.
Full-time jobs Singaporeans still enjoyed higher incomes last year, with the median income including employer contributions to the Central Provident Fund rising to $4,056 from $3,949 last year.
The MOM said in a statement that it has been enhancing the Adapt and Grow programs to help job seekers overcome mismatches and missed opportunities in the labour market as the economy restructures.
The ministry expects the demand for labour to remain modest, in line with the modest economic growth forecast by the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
"With slower local labour force growth and the improving skills and education profile of our workforce, our priority is to maximise the quality of jobs, both in new growth areas as well as through re-designing of existing jobs," the ministry said.