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Total employment growth last year slowest since 2003: MOM

More workers were also laid off last year, at 15,580 compared to 2014's 12,930, according to Manpower Ministry statistics.  

SINGAPORE: Total employment growth in Singapore grew by 0.9 per cent last year, making it the slowest growth since 2003 when it was -0.6 per cent, according to the latest statistics by the Manpower Ministry (MOM) on Tuesday (Mar 15). 

In real numbers, total employment growth was 32,300, and this slowed from the 3 per cent to 4 per cent growth between 2011 and 2014, the ministry said in its Labour Market 2015 report.

Local employment growth was flat for the whole of 2015 after high growth in the previous two years, while foreign employment growth moderated to 31,600, or 2.3 per cent. Excluding foreign domestic workers, the number is 22,600, the report stated.

On a quarterly basis, the fourth-quarter overall unemployment rate declined by 0.1 percentage point to 1.9 per cent, with residents at 2.9 per cent and citizens at 3 per cent in December 2015. For the whole of 2015, unemployment stayed low, averaging 1.9 per cent for overall, 2.8 per cent for residents and 2.9 per cent for citizens, according to MOM.

MORE WORKERS LAID OFF

Additionally, the number of workers laid off rose last year, with 15,580 over 2014's 12,930, the statistics showed. Services formed the bulk of redundancies with 55 per cent, followed by manufacturing (33 per cent) and construction (11 per cent). 

"The annual number of redundancies has been on an uptrend since 2010, reflecting ongoing business restructuring, as well as softer economic conditions in 2015. Layoffs increased across all sectors in 2015," MOM said. 

However, the number of workers laid off was lower than the 23,430 during the recession of 2009.

Workers made redundant are also finding it tougher to re-enter the workforce, the report showed. Based on Central Provident Fund (CPF) records, 50 per cent of residents made redundant in the third quarter of 2015 secured employment by December last year - down from 55 per cent the previous quarter and 59 per cent from the year before. 

An analyst said fitting into a new job requires training, so the time taken to find employment will rise. Country Manager of Adecco Singapore, Femke Hellemons, said: "What we see is that the labour force continually needs to reskill and upskill their employability.

“So, going for training, structural learning and development is key to staying relevant to the labour market. And this goes for all groups. This gives people the opportunity to explore different opportunities in different industries."

There were also fewer jobs available last year, given the softer economic conditions and continued efforts to restructure towards a more productive and manpower-lean economy.

While the number of vacancies remained higher than job seekers, the ratio had moderated to 113 job openings for every 100 job seekers in December 2015, from 116 in September 2015 and 142 in December 2014, the report showed. 

Looking ahead, MOM said it is closely monitoring the situation in the labour market, and that it will strengthen employment support to help displaced locals re-enter the workforce.