Fewer lay-offs as job market recovers

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Fewer workers in Singapore lost their jobs in the first half of the year, one of several signs that the labour market is on the mend.

The others are a dip in the unemployment rate and the long-term unemployment rate for residents from March to June, and an increase in job openings.

Yet another is a rise in the number of residents at work in the first half of the year, a turnaround from falling local employment in the first half of both 2015 and last year.

The improved picture drawn from official figures released yesterday indicates that the hiring outlook is brightening, although demand for workers is uneven across sectors, analysts said.

Maybank Kim Eng economist Chua Hak Bin said: "The worst of the job market issues is probably behind us, and it looks like it is improving in line with economic growth recovery."

Ministry of Manpower (MOM) figures show that 3,640 workers were laid off in the second quarter of this year, a dip from the first quarter (4,000) and a year ago (4,800).

Three in four retrenched residents were professionals, managers, executives and technicians.

  • The number of workers laid off in the second quarter of this year, a dip from the first
    quarter (4,000) and a year ago (4,800).

For citizens, the preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.3 per cent in June, better than 3.5 per cent in March.

As for citizens and permanent residents combined, the rate improved a notch to 3.1 per cent, from 3.2 per cent.

The overall rate, however, remained unchanged at 2.2 per cent during this period.

Still, the various rates are higher than a year ago, and MOM said unemployment and long-term unemployment for residents could remain elevated in the medium term.

The reasons are ongoing economic restructuring, the job-skills mismatch and shifts in the make-up of the resident labour force, it said.

Meanwhile, almost two-thirds of residents retrenched in the fourth quarter of last year were back at work in the second quarter of this year.

But those aged 50 and older continued to face difficulties. Their re-entry rate was 52 per cent.

Singapore also employed fewer foreigners, with the pool shrinking by 21,400, excluding domestic workers.

Labour productivity rose 2.8 per cent in the first half of the year, against the same period last year.

Sectors that did well include manufacturing, transport and storage, and wholesale and retail trade.