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Unemployment edges up in Q2 amid softer economy

Singapore's unemployment rate rose to 2 per cent in June, up from 1.8 per cent in March, says the Manpower Ministry. 

SINGAPORE: The Republic’s unemployment rate edged up slightly in the second quarter of 2015, after declining for the past four quarters, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Thursday (Jul 30).

The unemployment rate rose to 2 per cent in June, up from 1.8 per cent in March, due to "softer economic conditions", the ministry said. Among residents, unemployment rose from 2.5 per cent to 2.8 per cent, and for citizens, it rose from 2.6 per cent to 2.9 per cent. The figures are similar to the unemployment situation a year ago, MOM said.

Training and consultancy provider Human Capital Singapore said the increase is not a surprise, as the second quarter typically sees an influx of graduates into the workforce.

"It might be due to a situation where people are taking a bit of time to look for jobs," said Mr David Ang, director of training and consultancy at Human Capital. "People, maybe even for new graduates who come into the group of unemployed, may say, 'I'll go for a holiday and I will pursue my options later on'." 

Total employment grew by 15,700, following a contraction of 6,100 in the last quarter, boosted by hiring in the construction and services industries. However, overall employment growth for the first half of 2015 has slowed compared to a year ago, MOM said.

The number of employed people in June 2015 was 3,633,500, which was 2.4 per cent higher than a year ago, but lower compared to a 2.7 per cent increase in March 2015.

Layoffs fell for the second straight quarter, with 3,100 workers laid off compared with 3,500 in the previous quarter, the ministry said.

In a Facebook post, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said he was keeping a close watch on the unemployment rate, which is “still low but has crept up”.

“We must make sure that this is not due to a growing mismatch between the skills and expectations of the job seekers versus the skills requirements and job offerings from the employers,” he said.

On employment growth, which has slowed from a year ago, Mr Lim said this was not unexpected as the Government slows down the increase of foreign manpower and speeds up the development of a stronger Singaporean core.

He added that the Manpower Ministry, together with the Workforce Development Agency (WDA), are “pushing hard and running fast” on SkillsFuture to create better career opportunities for Singaporeans at all levels.

“Our employment situation is by no means perfect, but it is one of the best in the world. Our employment rate is one of the highest globally while our unemployment rate is one of the lowest. We must strive to keep it this way for as long as we can,” he added.

This morning, MOM released the Employment Situation Report for the second quarter of 2015. More people are working in...

Posted by Lim Swee Say on Wednesday, July 29, 2015

With political instability in the region and the global economy outlook looking cloudy, an analyst said Singaporeans should prepare for tougher conditions ahead.

"We still have to make sure that we 'recession-proof' ourselves, and make sure that we have the relevant skill sets," said Mr Erman Tan, president of Singapore Human Resources Institute. "Very importantly, you must always have the mindset that competition is everywhere and redundancy may come and hit you very quickly."