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Unemployment rates in Q2 hold steady amid tight labour market: MOM

Overall unemployment rate in Singapore remained at 2.0 per cent, but total employment growth slowed in June, according to the Ministry of Manpower's figures.

SINGAPORE: Fewer workers were laid off from April to June, when compared to the previous three months. Preliminary estimates released by the Manpower Ministry’s Manpower Research and Statistics Department on Thursday (July 31) showed that the overall seasonally adjusted unemployment rates remained at 2.0 per cent - similar to that of the first quarter.

According to the latest data, about 2,300 workers were let go - down from around 3,100 in the first quarter. And while the overall seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained low, the numbers also show that job creation has slowed.

The major sectors in the Singapore economy are creating more jobs, just not as fast as before. In the second quarter of this year, there were about 22,000 new jobs - compared with around 28,300 in the previous three months.

"Employment growth is moderating a little bit because it's not as easy for organisations to find the people that they need at the moment,” said Ian Grundy of Adecco. “It's a very tight labour market. And there's probably not the number of people in the job market that many organisations would like to see."

The good news is, this is the second straight quarter that the number of workers let go has declined. Layoffs fell across all major sectors in the second quarter - led by services (1,500), manufacturing (500), and construction (300). But services also accounted for the lion's share of jobs created - at 20,100 out of the overall 22,000 figure.

"In any structural adjustment, you're going to see certain level of creation, and certain level of destruction," said Assoc Prof Shandre Thangavelu from the Department of Economics at the National University of Singapore. "So, we are going through a phase of destruction before we are going to see more creation. And in this process of 'creative destruction', we are going to see old jobs being destroyed and new types of skills and jobs will emerge."

Observers say the key is for Singapore's workforce to keep itself relevant so it can take on new jobs, in a situation which economists say is one of full employment. The total number of people with jobs is 3.6 per cent higher than a year ago and that works out to over 3.5 million people employed in June 2014.

However, the rate of increase in employment over the year is still lower than the four per cent seen in March 2014. For citizens, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate held steady at 3.0 per cent in June, with the resident unemployment rate improving slightly from 2.9 to 2.8 per cent. 

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