Unemployment rate inched up to 2.3% despite growth of total employment

photo: CNA video grab

While employment rates increased, the unemployment and long-term unemployment rates continue to inch up, revealed the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on 12 December.

MOM said that this may have been a result of hiring caution.

The ministry’s labour market report for the third quarter (Q3) of 2019 shows total employment growth up by 21,700 more than the previous quarter (6,200) and the year before (16,700) with the bulk of the employment growth attributed to the services sector.

Also, a positive was the low number of retrenchments and the improved six month re-entry rate for retrenched residents. While Q3 of 2019 shows a slightly higher number of retrenchments at 2,430 compared to the previous quarters 2,320, it is still lower than a year ago when it was at 2,860.

MOM noted that there were 10,490 retrenchments between October 2018 and September 2019, lower than the preceding 12-month period (October 2017 to September 2018) which was 11,900 and the period before that (Oct 2016 to Sept 2017) which was 16,480.

As for the six-month re-entry rate into employment among retrenched residents, Q3 was at 65%, about 5% higher than the previous quarter. The improvement, said MOM, was broad-based across most ages, education levels, and occupational groups except for production and related workers.

On the flip side, unemployment rates have inched up again from 2.2% to 2.3% overall. Specifically, the unemployment rates among residents went up from 3.1% to 3.2% while the rate for citizens rose from 3.2% to 3.3% in the third quarter of this year. The seasonally adjusted resident long term employment rate also increased slightly from 0.6% in June 2019 to 0.7% in September 2019.

In terms of the ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons, MOM notes that it has declined as well from 0.94 in June 2019 to 0.83 in September 2019. Though MOM emphasised that jobs continue to be available, particularly in the service sectors including community, social & personal services, finance and insurance, professional, and information & communication.

Noting that global uncertainties still remain, MOM asserted that the Singapore economy picked up slightly in the third quarter as employers continue to hire and employment significantly expands.

Emphasising the assistance available to the unemployed to reskill for new jobs, MOM says that Workforce Singapore (WSG) and NTUC-Employment and Employability Institute are increasing the capacity of professional conversion programs and place-and-train programs under the Adapt & Grow (A&G) initiative.

As for employers, MOM is encouraging them to ‘press on’ with business transformation and tap on A&G programs like the Career Support Program and Career Trial to access a larger pool of jobseekers.

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