- POSTED: 13 Sep 2013 10:47
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Unemployment remains low in Singapore, despite rising slightly in the second quarter of 2013. The Ministry of Manpower's "Labour Market, Second Quarter 2013" report revealed that the seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rate was 2.1 per cent in June 2013, up from 1.9 per cent in March 2013.
SINGAPORE: Unemployment remains low in Singapore, despite rising slightly in the second quarter of 2013. The key findings from the Ministry of Manpower's "Labour Market, Second Quarter 2013" report released on Friday were that the seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rate was 2.1 per cent in June 2013, up from 1.9 per cent in March 2013.
Total employment rose by 33,700 in the second quarter of 2013, higher than the gains of 28,900 in the previous quarter and 31,700 in the second quarter of 2012. This brought total employment to 3,420,200 in June 2013, which was 4 per cent higher than a year ago.
In a statement, the Manpower Ministry also provided its labour outlook for the rest of 2013.
In the first half of 2013, local employment gains exceeded foreign employment gains -- local employment rose by 34,100, up from the gains of 22,800 in the same period last year.
Excluding foreign domestic workers (FDWs), foreign employment growth slowed to 27,000, down from the gains of 34,100 in the same period in 2012.
The ministry noted that this was the smallest growth since the first half of 2010, reflecting the continued fall in the number of Employment Pass (EP) holders and slower growth in Work Permit (WP) and S Pass holders.
Growth in the employment of foreign workers was largely driven by the construction sector due to infrastructure and housing developments.
Excluding the construction sector and FDWs, foreign employment grew by just 11,700 in the first half of 2013, compared to the gains of 18,600 in the same period last year.
The Manpower Ministry added that the labour market is expected to remain tight for the rest of the year.
Dr Tan Khay Boon, senior lecturer at SIM Global Education, agreed. He said: "The labour market is still going to remain tight. In fact, we should still see high labour costs and wage inflation in our economy. This trend will not change until there's a big increase in the labour productivity."
Standard Chartered Bank's economist (global research), Jeff Ng, said: "In the medium term, I think, for Singapore to achieve...its upper-end of its 3-5% (GDP) growth target, I think productivity growth will be a key factor."
Some observers believe expanding overseas for more business will help boost productivity.
Human Capital Singapore's chief executive, Ho Geok Choo, said: "We have been looking at productivity as improving output so that it leads to better wage gains.
"But what is important for a small nation like Singapore is the fact that we must actually open up the market space and encourage our companies in Singapore to actually move out of the Singapore shores."
Commenting online, Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said moderating labour growth, coupled with encouraging productivity-driven gains, is "a delicate balancing act".
He noted the pain felt by smaller companies with the tightening of foreign manpower.
Mr Tan said schemes and grants are available to help firms in the restructuring process.