Number of people working in Singapore falls in third quarter

Author: PM editorial | Date: 1 Nov 2016

But unemployment figures are stable and country continues to lead Asia in annual Ease of Doing Business survey

The number of people working in Singapore fell by 3,300 during the third quarter of this year, although the unemployment rate has remained steady. It is only the second time since the 2009 financial crisis that total employment in Singapore has contracted.
 
Figures released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) showed the unemployment rate sticking at 2.1 per cent, despite the fact there are fewer people employed in the country. This is partly because of a fall in construction and manufacturing work permit holders, who are often overseas nationals and leave the country once their job comes to an end.
 
The cost of the S Pass for foreign workers increased this year, which may also have made Singapore a less viable option for migrant workers.
 
Employment declined in manufacturing for the eighth consecutive quarter, said the MOM report: “It also turned negative in construction after four quarters of moderated growth. This was partially offset by employment growth in services.”
 
The report estimated that fewer workers were made redundant in the third quarter (4,100) than in the previous quarter (4,800), but the number was higher than the same time a year ago (3,460).
 
“The contraction in total employment and heightened redundancy levels reflect the current subdued global economic conditions and internal economic restructuring,” said the MOM. “As we continue to transform our industries to remain competitive and to create more jobs for our people, we will continue to help displaced workers seize new job opportunities through SkillsFuture and Adapt & Grow initiatives.”
 
In more encouraging news for Singapore, its score has improved in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking. It is considered the second best place in the world (after New Zealand) to do business by the annual survey.
 
The main areas it has improved on since last year are the ease of starting a business, dealing with construction permits, registering property and paying taxes.