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Overall unemployment rate rises to 2.1% in Q3 2018 in Singapore

The Ministry of Manpower has released its Labour Market Report for the third quarter of 2018.

The labour market showed further signs of improvement in Q3 2018. Total employment grew at a faster pace and retrenchments were lower. Resident and citizen unemployment rates held steady over the quarter, and the resident long-term unemployment rate declined. However, the ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons dipped, suggesting some easing in the tightening of the labour market. Nonetheless, there continues to be more vacancies than job seekers for the third consecutive quarter. 

Total employment (excluding foreign domestic workers (FDW)) grew by 16,700 in Q3 2018, compared with growth of 6,500 in the previous quarter. Employment growth occurred mainly in sectors such as community, social & personal services, financial & insurance services, information & communications and professional services.    

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rates among residents (2.9%) and citizens (3.0%) held steady from June 2018 to September 2018, while the overall rate rose slightly (from 2.0% to 2.1%). All rates remained at or below those in September 2017. However, they were slightly higher than the two-year lows observed in March 2018, reflecting a continued inflow of job seekers into the labour market. The seasonally adjusted resident long-term unemployment rate declined from 0.7% in June 2018 to 0.6% in September 2018. This suggested that workers are better able to secure employment as economic conditions improved. 

Fewer workers were retrenched in Q3 2018 (2,860) compared to the previous quarter (3,030) and a year ago (3,400). The total number of retrenchments in the first nine months of 2018 (8,220) was lower than the same period last year (11,040). Business restructuring and reorganisation remained the top reason for retrenchment in the first nine months of 2018.  

The six-month re-entry rate into employment of retrenched residents declined in Q3 2018 (from 64% to 62%) and was similar to Q1 2018 (61%). The decline came from those previously employed in clerical and production & related jobs.  

The ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons dipped from 1.10 in June 2018 to 1.05 in September 2018. Nonetheless, there continues to be more vacancies than job seekers for the third consecutive quarter.  

Going forward, hiring momentum may moderate against a backdrop of external trade tensions and slowing growth in Singapore‚Äôs key final demand markets. Job opportunities continue to be available in sectors such as information & communications, financial & insurance services, healthcare, professional services, wholesale trade, and built environment. 

Given the ongoing economic restructuring and the corresponding challenge of jobs-skills mismatch, it is important that workers and businesses stay agile and responsive to market demands. MOM and Workforce Singapore (WSG) will continue to work closely with tripartite partners to support and match Singaporeans to good jobs and careers through the Adapt and Grow initiative. 

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