More Singaporeans find jobs, but long-term unemployment rate rises: MOM

MORE Singaporeans found jobs in the first half of this year than in the first six months of 2017, with local employment growth 1.5 times higher.

However, the latest Manpower Ministry (MOM) statistics released on Thursday also showed that the long-term unemployment rate has continued to edge up.

The MOM said in its latest report that local employment, which rose by 6,500, was boosted mainly by expansion in the services sector - community, social and personal services; financial and insurance services; information and communications; and transportation and storage.

The long-term unemployment rate, which measures the proportion of the resident labour force that has been unemployed for at least 25 weeks, grew from 0.7 per cent in March to 0.8 per cent in June. This remains within the range observed in the last two years.

At the same time, the overall unemployment rate rose from 2.8 per cent in March to 2.9 per cent in June - after a general downward trend since June 2017.

"This occurred as more persons entered the labour force to look for work," the MOM said.

Meanwhile, the number of retrenchments declined to 5,350 in the first half of the year, lower than the 7,640 lay-offs in the first half of last year.

"Restructuring and reorganisation remained the top reasons for retrenchment across industries," the report said.

Job vacancies rose to a three-year high of 56,700 in June, up from 53,900 in March.

"As restructuring picks up pace amidst increased economic activity, jobs and skills mismatches will continue to be a challenge," the MOM said. "It will therefore be increasingly important for workers and businesses to stay agile and responsive to economic transformation and an evolving workforce landscape."

Overall labour productivity rose by 3.9 per cent, supported by the manufacturing, financial and insurance services, accommodation and food services, and wholesale and retail trade sectors.

On the outlook for different industries, the MOM said employment in the manufacturing sector continued to fall, due to a decrease in work permit holders in the marine shipyard sector.

It continued to be weighed down by subdued demand for the new building of oil rigs, and the MOM said it expects the segment to continue seeing negative employment growth, due to weak demand faced by local shipyards and firms producing oilfield and gasfield equipment.

Excluding the marine shipyard segment, employment in manufacturing grew by 1,000.

Employment construction contracted by 6,400 amid continued weakness in construction activity. The decrease was mainly from work permit holders, and the sector is expected to remain lacklustre for the rest of the year.

The MOM expects labour demand to pick up in the second half of the year, in line with seasonal hiring, with jobs available in areas such as information and communications, financial and insurance services, and healthcare, among others.

"In the medium term, labour supply will remain tight," the MOM added. "Local workforce growth will remain modest due to underlying demographics trends, while foreign workforce growth will continue to be moderated."

THE STRAITS TIMES