Singapore retrenchments at 7-year low and unemployment rate dips but further improvements ‘harder to achieve’: MOM

The number of retrenchments in the first quarter of 2018 hit a seven-year low according to the Ministry of Manpower.

Modest improvements have been observed in Singapore’s labour market with the number of retrenchments at its lowest since 2009 and resident unemployment hitting a two-year low in the first quarter of 2018.

In a statement on Friday (Apr 27), the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said preliminary data showed a decline in unemployment rates and fewer retrenchments in the first quarter of the year. Total employment went through a decline as well.

Unemployment rates have continued to fall since March 2017 as seasonally adjusted overall unemployment decreased slightly quarter-on-quarter from 2.1% in December 2017 to 2.0% in March 2018.

While resident unemployment rate dropped from 3.0% to 2.8% during that time period, citizen unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.0%.

Total employment – excluding foreign domestic workers – contracted by 2,100 workers in the first quarter of 2018, after a seasonal increase in the fourth quarter of 2017.

According to MOM, the decline is mostly attributed to the decrease in work permit holders in the construction and marine shipyard sectors.

However, due to the moderation of contractions in both sectors, the decline was smaller when compared to the same period in previous year.

Increase in employment was observed in service sectors such as community, social and personal services, financial and insurance, information and communications, as well as transportation and storage.

The first quarter of 2018 saw 2,100 retrenchments, which was lower than the preceding quarter (3,600) and the same period in the previous year (4,000).

Retrenchment numbers were noted to have dropped over the quarter in the manufacturing, construction and services sectors.

Despite the optimistic results, MOM said: “While employment rates have declined from a year ago, further improvement will be harder to achieve.”

“Addressing potential job-skills mismatches remains critical, as the economy restructures and the profile of the resident labour force evolves.”