SINGAPORE: Singapore's unemployment rate in the first quarter was 2 per cent, down from 2.1 per cent in December last year, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Friday (Apr 27). Retrenchments also fell to 2,100 - the lowest in nearly seven years.
The unemployment rate for residents fell from 3 per cent to 2.8 per cent, while it remained unchanged at 3 per cent for Singapore citizens, according to an advance release of the first-quarter labour market report.
Total employment (excluding foreign domestic workers) dropped by 2,100 after a seasonal increase in the previous quarter, largely due to a decrease in work permit holders in the construction and marine shipyard sectors.
"However, the decline was smaller than the same period a year ago, as the contraction in both sectors moderated," said MOM.
Sectors in the services industry such as financial and insurance, information and communications, and transportation and storage saw an increase in employment.
According to the preliminary data, there were 2,100 retrenchments in the first quarter of 2018, down from 3,680 in the previous quarter and 4,000 in the same period last year.
This figure was the lowest since the third quarter of 2011, when the number of retrenchments was recorded as 1,960.
Retrenchments fell in the manufacturing, construction and services sectors.
MOM said that the labour market improved slightly "supported by the sustained expansion in economic activity".
Job opportunities continue to be available in the manufacturing and services sector, particularly in infocommunications and media, financial and insurance, healthcare, professional services, logistics and wholesale trade, it said.
Hiring is expected to remain cautious in sectors such as construction and marine shipyard, it added.
"While unemployment rates have declined from a year ago, further improvement will be harder to achieve. Addressing potential job-skills mismatches remains critical, as the economy restructures and the profile of the resident labour force evolves," the ministry said.
In a Facebook post on Friday, NTUC assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay said he was glad to see retrenchments fall significantly.
However, he added: "Although this may suggest an improved economic outlook with fewer firms needing to lay off workers, we have to be mindful that there may still be pockets of layoffs in some firms and sectors due to technological disruption and business restructuring as the economy transforms."