In the advance release of the Labour Market report for 2Q 2017 by the Manpower Research and Statistics Department, the performance of the labour market remained mixed. The resident unemployment rate and retrenchments improved from 1Q 2017. However, total employment continued to decline, largely reflecting a decrease in Work Permit Holders in Construction and Marine.
1. The highlights of the report:
2. The unemployment rate declined for residents and citizens, while the overall unemployment rate remained unchanged.
3. Preliminary estimates showed that quarter-on-quarter, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined among residents (3.2% in March to 3.1% in June) and citizens (3.5% in March to 3.3% in June). However, they remained higher than a year ago. The overall unemployment rate remained at 2.2% in June 2017, unchanged from March 2017. Total employment continued to decline, mainly due to a decrease in Work Permit Holders in Construction and Marine.
4. Total employment (excluding Foreign Domestic Workers) contracted by 8,400 in the second quarter of 2017, a smaller decline than in the first quarter of 2017 (- 9,400) and a reversal from growth of 2,100 a year ago. The decline was mainly due to a decrease in Work Permit Holders in Marine and Construction, a result of low oil prices and continued weakness in construction activities respectively. At the same time, employment continued to grow in Services.
5. Layoffs fell from the previous quarter. Preliminary estimates showed that fewer workers were retrenched in the second quarter of 2017 (3,500) compared to the previous quarter (4,000). The number was also significantly lower than a year ago (4,800). The decrease over the quarter was broad-based across industries.
The report stated that the labour market outlook remains uneven across sectors. Hiring remains cautious in sectors such as Construction and Marine, but opportunities will continue to be available in Finance & Insurance, Infocomms & Media, Healthcare, Professional Services and Wholesale Trade, which are the five sectors recently identified by the Ministry of Manpower where the potential for job creation is promising.
With elevated unemployment rate, the Ministry of Manpower’s priority remains to support displaced and at-risk workers, as well as jobseekers through “Adapt and Grow” programmes. Workers are urged to re-skill and embrace life-long learning to remain employable.