SINGAPORE: Singapore's overall unemployment rate declined slightly on a seasonally adjusted basis in the third quarter of the year from the previous quarter, according to preliminary estimates released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Friday (Oct 27).
The overall unemployment rate declined to 2.1 per cent in September from 2.2 per cent in June, the ministry said in its Labour Market Advance Release. Among Singaporeans, the rate declined to 3.2 per cent in September from 3.3 per cent in June, while it remained unchanged for residents at 3.1 per cent.
Compared to a year ago, the overall unemployment rate remained unchanged while resident and citizen unemployment rates were higher.
In September, an estimated 71,900 residents were unemployed, higher than 70,800 in June 2017. It declined for citizens, from 63,800 to 62,600.
Total employment, excluding foreign domestic workers, contracted by 2,500 in the third quarter, mainly due to a continued decrease in work permit holders in construction and manufacturing.
This was partly offset by a pickup in employment in the services sector, including in professional services, information and communications, administrative and support services, finance and insurance and accommodation.
MOM's preliminary estimates also showed that 3,600 workers were retrenched in the third quarter, less than the 3,640 workers let go in the previous quarter and 4,220 laid off in the same period last year.
Services continued to form the bulk of retrenchments at 66 per cent, followed by manufacturing at 19 per cent and construction at 15 per cent.
This is the third consecutive quarter where retrenchments have remained lower than the corresponding quarter a year ago, added MOM.
LABOUR DEMAND EXPECTED TO PICK UP IN Q4
Labour demand is expected to pick up in the fourth quarter of the year, in line with seasonal hiring as seen in previous years, said MOM.
Hiring remains cautious in sectors such as construction and marine, while job opportunities are available in other sectors particularly in infocomms and media, finance and insurance, healthcare, professional services and wholesale trade, it added.
"As the resident unemployment rate could remain elevated in the medium term due to on-going economic restructuring, shift in composition of resident labour force and job-skills mismatch, MOM and tripartite partners will continue to support jobseekers and at-risk workers," the ministry added.
It said that in the first half of the year, more than 10,000 individuals were placed under the Adapt and Grow Initiative, which aims to help Singaporeans adapt to changing job demands and grow their skills.
Of these, more than 1,500 have undergone skills conversion through professional conversion programmes, more than double that in the first half of last year.
In a Facebook post, NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Patrick Tay said the dip in the citizen unemployment rate was a "positive, encouraging sign".
He added that it was worth noting that employment contraction has been easing, and said that as mentioned in NTUC Future Jobs, Skills and Training reports there will be "positive new job opportunities" in fields including the financial sector, information and communications technology and healthcare.
"The labour movement will continue to work closely with our tripartite partners and industry stakeholders to endeavour in ensuring employers and workers embrace change, adopt the right mindset and stay able, agile and adaptable," he wrote.