SINGAPORE: The citizen unemployment rate in Singapore rose slightly in the first quarter of this year, according to preliminary figures released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Friday (Apr 26).
The jobless rate for citizens stood at 3.2 per cent at March 2019, compared with 3.1 per cent in December 2018, MOM said.
The seasonally adjusted overall (2.2 per cent) and resident (3.0 per cent) unemployment rates held steady in the first quarter, after inching up in the last three months of 2018.
Total employment growth in the first quarter of 2019 (excluding foreign domestic workers) fell to 12,000 from the previous quarter’s 14,700 due to seasonal factors, the ministry said. However, the figures for the first quarter was higher compared to the 400 over the same period in 2018.
Growth in the first quarter of 2019 was mainly in the services sector, such as community, social and personal services, financial services and transportation and storage.
Employment in construction saw a slight increase after 11 consecutive quarters of decline, but the manufacturing sector continued to shed workers.
NUMBER OF RETRENCHMENTS SIMILAR TO PREVIOUS QUARTER
The first quarter of 2019 saw 2,500 retrenchments, almost the same as the previous quarter’s 2,510 but slightly higher than the 2,320 recorded in the first quarter of 2018.
Retrenchments in the service industry declined over the quarter, but increased in manufacturing and remained unchanged in construction.
With the continuing economic restructuring and signs of external economic headwinds and uncertainty in 2019, MOM said it will work with Workforce Singapore (WSG) and tripartite partners to help Singaporeans secure good jobs through its Adapt & Grow initiative.
“We also encourage workers to tap on support under the SkillsFuture initiative to upskill and reskill, so as to build career resilience and improve their career mobility,” it said.
NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Patrick Tay said: "We must be prepared for any economic uncertainties as well as structural challenges which will remain the two main challenges in 2019.
"While retrenchments have been, on a whole, lower in 2018 and in this first quarter of 2019, we should expect to see fluctuations from quarter to quarter especially with the continued US-China trade tensions and several key political elections across the globe which result in natural uncertainties."
Mr Tay also emphasised the need to improve the skills of workers amid the tight labour market.
"Both workers and businesses need to cultivate a mindset of agility and adaptability in order to effectively respond to economic transformation and an evolving workforce landscape," he said.