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Unemployment rate up slightly to 2.1% in Q2 2018, Ministry of Manpower finds

The Manpower Research & Statistics Department has released the "Labour Market Report for the Second Quarter of 2018".


The labour market remained healthy in the second quarter of 2018, as total employment grew and the rate of re-entry into employment among retrenched locals improved for most age and education groups. As vacancies rose, the ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons continued to increase, even though the unemployment rate rose as more people entered the labour force to look for work. However, there were more retrenchments in the second quarter of 2018, largely due to reorganisation and restructuring. The long-term unemployment rate also edged up, staying within the range observed in the last two years.


The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose slightly in the second quarter of 2018, at the overall (from 2.0% in March 2018 to 2.1% in June 2018) as well as among residents (from 2.8% to 2.9%) and citizens (from 3.0% to 3.1%), as more people entered the labour force to look for work on the back of continued expansion in economic activities. The increase came after a general downtrend since June 2017, but the unemployment rates remained lower than a year ago.


Total employment grew by 6,500 in the second quarter of 2018, larger than the increase in the preceding quarter (3,700 or 400 excluding foreign domestic workers (FDW)). The growth continued to come from services (7,200), as increases outweighed the slowing declines in manufacturing (-100) and construction (-700). The services industries that contributed most to employment growth were transportation & storage, information & communications, community, social & personal services, and financial & insurance services.


Although retrenchments in the second quarter of 2018 (3,030) were higher than the previous quarter (2,320), they remained lower than the same period a year ago (3,640). Business restructuring and reorganisation remained the top reason for retrenchment, while retrenchments due to recession have continued to decline. The six-month re-entry rate among retrenched residents improved in the second quarter of 2018 (64%) after declining in the past two quarters, with broad-based increases across most age and education groups.


The number of seasonally adjusted job vacancies continued its uptrend since June 2017 to a 3-year high of 56,700 in June 2018. As the increase in unemployed persons was relatively smaller, the seasonally adjusted ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons trended higher to 108 job vacancies per 100 job seekers in June 2018, from 104 in March 2018.


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