Unemployment Up in Third Quarter

Weak economic growth due to slowing global economy is impacting jobs, with unemployment for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PR) increasing for the 2nd quarter in a row.

As of September, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Singapore citizens and PRs was 3 per cent, an increase from 2.5 per cent in March.

Although still low by international standards, this is the highest since 2010. Preliminary figures released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on 29 Oct showed that the rate for citizens was 3.1 per cent, up from 2.6 per cent in March.

Economists said the downturn was cyclical and hence impacted more on the local population.

"Residents tend to be in higher-skilled jobs which are more susceptible to such changes than low-skilled jobs held mostly by foreign workers," said DBS economist Irvin Seah.

The overall unemployment rate (including foreigners working in Singapore) remained unchanged at 2 per cent after taking into account seasonal changes.

Sectors which depend more on foreign workers are still facing shortages, while foreigners who are retrenched will not count towards unemployment statistics.

However, concurrently with the growth in unemployment, more jobs were filled from July to September. The number of people employed increased by 16,400 due to growth in the service and construction sectors.

As of September, the total number of people employed in Singapore was 3,644,000.

SIM University senior lecturer Walter Theseira said employment can rise together with the jobless rate as better employment prospects convince people to re-enter the workforce and look for jobs, but if they do not find one immediately, they come under the unemployment count.

In the past three months:
1) 17,000 more people were employed in the service sector compared to just 6,500 in the previous quarter;
2) Construction sector added 3,800 workers; while
3) Manufacturing sector had 4,300 fewer workers compared to the start of the quarter.

From July to September, companies retrenched fewer people for the third consecutive quarter, with 2,900 people losing their jobs, down from 3,250 in the previous three months.

"MOM and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency stand ready to help displaced local workers to re-skill and upgrade so that they are able to take on new jobs," said MOM in a statement.

Source: “Unemployment for S'poreans, PRs rises in Q3”, (The Straits Times, 30 Oct 2015)

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