Unemployment and redundancies on the rise in Singapore amid economic uncertainty

Author: PM editorial | Date: 1 Feb 2017

Overall employment grows but figures released by Ministry of Manpower are ‘a concern’

The unemployment rate and number of redundancies in Singapore hit respective six- and seven-year highs in the final quarter of 2016, despite overall employment growing.
Income growth also slowed to 1.3 per cent and employment growth fell to 0.4 per cent (or 16,400 jobs). That was approximately half the employment growth of 2015 and the lowest since 2003 saw negative growth of 0.6 per cent.
The figures were contained in the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) 'Labour Market Advance Release 2016'.
“The increase in resident unemployment to 3.2 per cent in December is a concern even though employment rose in Q4,” said NTUC assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay, in a Facebook post. He urged employers to carry out any redundancies they are forced to make in a responsible and sensitive manner.
The MOM blamed economic uncertainty for the gloomy news. “The weaker and more uncertain economic environment in 2016 has presented a challenge to sustain growth and stem a rise in unemployment,” it said in a statement.
Singapore’s unemployment rate was 2.1 per cent, the highest it has been since 2010. Around 5,300 workers were made redundant in the fourth quarter of 2016, which was an increase on the third quarter but similar to the same period in 2015 (5,370).
However, the solid level of job creation in the services sector (including community, social and personal services) helped to offset losses in manufacturing and construction.
Selena Ling, OCBC Bank’s head of treasury research and strategy, echoed the MOM’s message on the economic climate when she told The Business Times: “We anticipate the domestic labour market will continue to soften due to a combination of sluggish domestic business conditions, coupled with an uncertain external business climate due to Trump's policy uncertainties and the continued slowdown in China.”