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Singapore’s unemployment rate rose to 3% after a steady four years

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The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has released its quarterly analysis on the labour market situation in 2016. Some of the topics covered include unemployment, employment, redundancy, and job vacancy amongst others. Here are some of the key findings of the MOM Labour Market 2016 report:

  • Unemployment rate rose to 3% in 2016, as compared to the steady 2.8% throughout four years.
  • The annual average resident long-term unemployment rate rose from 0.6% in 2015 to 0.8% in 2016 – the highest since 2009.
  • Employment grew in the fourth quarter of 2016
  • Redundancies rose in the fourth quarter of 2016 as compared to previous quarter and a year ago

Unemployment rate rose to 3% in 2016

Quarter-on-quarter (seasonally adjusted), the overall unemployment rate rose from 2.1% in September 2016 to 2.2% in December 2016. Furthermore, unemployment rate rose for residents (2.9% to 3.2%) and citizens (3.0% to 3.5%), as more people entered the labour force to look for work.

An estimated 73,900 residents (including 67,300 citizens) were unemployed in December 2016. This was higher than the 66,600 and 58,500 in September 2016.

Additionally, unemployment rate rose to its highest since 2010 for overall (1.9% in 2015 to 2.1% in 2016), residents (2.8% to 3.0%) and citizens (2.9% to 3.1%) in 2016.

MOM_LR2016_unemployment graph 1 MOM_LR2016_unemployment graph 2


Annual average resident long-term unemployment rate

More job seekers were taking a longer time to find work. The resident long-term unemployment rate rose in December 2016 compared to December 2015. In the year, the annual average unemployment rate also rose from 0.6% in 2015 to 0.8% in 2016. The share of long term unemployed among the unemployed also increased, from 21% in 2015 to 26% in 2016.

MOM_LR2016_unemployment graph 3

ALSO READ: Layoffs, unemployment on the rise in Singapore Q2 2016

Employment grew in the fourth quarter of 2016

Reflecting seasonal hiring for year-end festivities, total employment grew in the fourth quarter of 2016 (2,300), compared to the contraction in the third quarter (-2,700), but growth was lower than the fourth quarter of 2015 (16,100).

For the whole of 2016, total employment – excluding foreign domestic worker (FDW) – grew by 8,600; which is the lowest growth since 2003 (-11,700).

Manufacturing (-15,500) continued its declines for the third consecutive year and was likely to extend to 1Q 2017. On the other hand, construction (- 11,500) saw its first decline since 2004, due to a slowdown in private sector construction activities.

These declines were offset by increases in services sectors such as community, social & personal services (20,200 or 12,000 excluding FDW), accommodation & food services (6,000), administrative & support services (4,200) and transportation & storage (4,100).

MOM_employment rate grew

Redundancies rose in the fourth quarter of 2016

Redundancies rose in the fourth quarter of 2016, reflecting more layoffs in manufacturing and services. 5,440 workers were made redundant in 4Q 2016, up from the previous quarter (4,220) and highest since 2Q 2009 (5,980).

MOM_LR2016_unemployment graph 5

PMETs formed 75% of all residents made redundant in 4Q 2016. They remained over-represented as compared to their workforce composition.

In addition, 1,160 workers were placed on short work-week or temporary layoff in 4Q 2016, continuing the gradual uptrend observed since 3Q 2014.

Majority of the workers were placed on short work-week (930) with the remaining 230 laid off temporarily in 4Q 2016. Similar to past quarters, affected workers were mainly from manufacturing (61%), with the remaining from services (26%) and construction (13%).

They were mostly production & related workers (59%), followed by PMETs (30%) and clerical, sales and service workers (12%).

MOM_LR2016_unemployment graph 6

As for job vacancies, the seasonally-adjusted vacancies declined to a four-year low of 47,600 in December 2016 (from 50,800 in September 2016).

Coupled with the increase in unemployed persons, the seasonally-adjusted ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons fell from 91 openings per 100 job seekers in September 2016 to 77 in December 2016, the lowest since September 2009.

Graph/ Ministry of Manpower
Lead image/ 123RF

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