Unemployment, retrenchment higher in Q2: MOM

SINGAPORE: The number of unemployed people and those retrenched rose in the second quarter of the year, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in a news release on Friday (Jul 27).

Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates rose to 2.1 per cent in June this year, from 2 per cent in March, when the lowest unemployment rate was recorded since March last year.

In June, an estimated 69,500 residents were unemployed, higher than the 64,800 in March, said MOM.

The unemployment rate for residents rose from 2.8 per cent to 3 per cent, and went up from 3 per cent from 3 per cent for Singapore citizens, according to an advance release of the first-quarter labour market report.

The ministry added that this is because more people entered the workforce on the back of continued expansion in economic activities.

Preliminary data showed that total employment grew despite the higher unemployment and retrenchment rates, said MOM.

Total employment, excluding foreign domestic workers, increased by 7,100 in the second quarter of the year. This increase is larger than the 400 seen in the first quarter.

MOM added that this reflected the moderated pace of contractions in construction and manufacturing employment.

The service sector also continued to add workers in areas like transportation and storage, professional services, and financial and insurance.

The increase in the second quarter of 2018 was also a reversal from the contraction observed in the same period a year ago.

According to the release, unemployment rates have been trending downwards since June 2017, and the rates in June 2018 remained lower than in June last year.

Structural challenges such as skills and job mismatches continue to be one of the maincause of unemployment in Singapore, noted NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Patrick Tay in a Facebook post on Friday.

"We need to continue our efforts in supporting mature workers and PMETs as they are most vulnerable in the current labour market situation as majority of the layoffs affect PMETs," he added.


Meanwhile, the number of retrenchments edged up to 2,500 this quarter from 2,320 in the preceding quarter.

Retrenchment numbers have seen a downtrend since the fourth quarter of 2016.

MOM added that the retrenchment figures reflected ongoing restructuring and reorganisation.

However, this quarter's retrenchment figures are lower than the same period a year ago when 3,640 people were retrenched.

While retrenchment numbers were higher in manufacturing, they remained largely unchanged in construction and declined in services.

The labour union's Mr Tay expects retrenchment figures to rise in the third quarter.

"I expect to see retrenchment figures inch up in Q3 as we continue to see pockets of layoffs due to reorganisation, restructuring and restrategisation amidst technological/digital disruption including uncertainties caused by the US trade sanctions," he said.

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