Retrenchments are higher and unemployment rates rose in the second quarter of 2018 compared to the previous quarter, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in a press release on Friday (27 July).
The ministry stated that preliminary data in the second quarter of 2018 showed that total employment grew even as unemployment rates edged upwards, which occurred as more persons entered the labour force to look for work on the back of continued expansion in economic activities.
According to MOM, total employment (excluding Foreign Domestic Workers) increased by 7,100 in the second quarter of 2018, which is a larger increase than in the first quarter of 2018 (400), reflecting the moderated pace of contractions in Construction and Manufacturing employment.
The ministry said that the increase in the second quarter of 2018 was also a reversal from the contraction observed in the same period a year ago (-7,900). The Services sector continued to add workers, such as in Transportation & Storage, Information & Communications, Community, Social & Personal Services, Professional Services and Financial & Insurance.
Meanwhile, MOM said that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rates increased at the overall level (from 2.0 percent in March 2018 to 2.1 percent in June 2018), for residents (from 2.8 percent to 3.0 percent) and for citizens (from 3.0 percent to 3.1 percent), after a general downtrend since June 2017.
“The rates in June 2018 remained lower than in June 2017,” it noted.
The ministry said that the number of retrenchments in the second quarter of 2018 (2,500) edged up from the preceding quarter (2,320), reflecting on-going restructuring and reorganisation.
“This occurred after a downtrend since the fourth quarter of 2016. The number of workers retrenched in 2Q 2018 was lower than the same period a year ago (3,640). Retrenchments declined over the quarter in Services, remained largely unchanged in Construction and increased in Manufacturing,” it noted.
Overall, MOM stressed that the labour market continued to expand with net growth in total employment, while unemployment and retrenchments in the second quarter of 2018 remained lower compared to the same period a year ago.
However, the unemployment rate increased compared to March 2018, which saw the lowest unemployment rate since March 2017.
“Retrenchments may also rise as restructuring and reorganisation gather pace,” it noted.
The ministry also said that it will be increasingly important for workers and businesses to stay agile and responsive to emerging technological trends, economic restructuring and the evolving workforce landscape.
“MOM and Workforce Singapore remain focussed on helping jobseekers secure better employment outcomes through the Adapt and Grow initiative, and businesses to transform and grow through the Lean Enterprise Development Scheme and the Capability Transfer Programme,” MOM added.
One has to note that MOM figures do not differentiate between Singaporeans and PRs as the figures are lumped together.