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Unemployment rates hold steady in Q1 2019, Ministry of Manpower reports

The Manpower Research and Statistics Department, MOM has released the “Labour Market Advance Release First Quarter 2019”.


Preliminary indicators suggested that the labour market held up in Q1 2019 despite signs of external economic headwinds and uncertainty in 2019. Key labour market indicators stayed mostly on trend.  Employment grew, retrenchments remained low, and overall and resident unemployment rates held steady, although the citizen unemployment rate edged up modestly.  


Total employment (excluding foreign domestic workers) continued to grow in Q1 2019 (12,000), a healthy increase considering that growth was significantly higher than Q1 2018 (400), and lower than Q4 2018 (14,700) because of seasonal factors. Employment growth mainly occurred in services sectors such as community, social & personal services, administrative & support services, professional services, financial services, and transportation & storage. Construction registered its first increase in employment, albeit slight, after eleven consecutive quarters of decline.  Manufacturing continued to shed workers.


The overall (2.2%) and resident (3.0%) unemployment rates held steady in March 2019 after rising in the previous quarter. However, the citizen unemployment rate continued to inch up (from 3.1% in December 2018 to 3.2% in March 2019).


Based on preliminary estimates, the number of retrenchments remained low in 1Q 2019 (2,500), similar to the preceding quarter (2,510), and slightly above the multi-quarter low in 1Q 2018 (2,320).  Trends were mixed across industries.  Retrenchments declined over the quarter in services, increased in manufacturing and remained unchanged in construction.


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