While the city-state has has made good progress in the first quarter of 2021, the better-than-expected recovery is expected to face headwinds from uncertainties in the economy and the ongoing measures to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in its Labour Market Report.

Figures from the report showed that total employment (excluding migrant domestic workers) grew by 12,200 for the first time in the first quarter this year after four consecutive quarters of decline. The increase was far higher than the earlier estimate of 4,800 and mainly due to the increase in resident employment as tight border restrictions kept non-resident employment on the decline.

By sector, the employment increases were broad-based, growing the most in information and communications, food and beverage services, health and social services, administrative and support services, public administration and education, and professional services.

Though unemployment rates dropped from February to March with the overall rate falling from 3.0% to 2.9%; resident rate from 4.1% to 4.0% and citizen rate from 4.3% to 4.2%, they remained high compared to pre-pandemic levels. The resident long-term unemployment rate, referring to those who have been unemployed for more than six months, remained unchanged at 1.1%.

In the first quarter, the number of retrenched people was 2,270, marking a decline for the second consecutive quarter. Among retrenched residents, the six-month re-entry rate increased to 66% for two consecutive quarters in Q1 2021.

The number of job vacancies rose further to 68,400 in March, surpassing the last high of 65,600 in the same month of 2015. Job vacancies were seen in all industries, particularly in manufacturing (mainly in fabricated metal products, machinery & equipment and electronics), public administration & education, construction, information & communications and financial services.

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