Based on preliminary estimates, 4,800 workers were laid off in the first quarter of 2017. Following an increase in the previous quarter, redundancies declined from 5,440 in Q4 2016 to 4,800 in Q1 2017. While this is a decrease, it is similar when compared a year ago (4,710).
The services sector continued to form the bulk of redundancies (63%) in the first quarter of 2017, followed by manufacturing (21%) and construction (17%). Redundancies are also expected to remain elevated due to some sectors continuing to experience cyclical weakness, and businesses continuing to restructure.
Although lower redundancies were seen in manufacturing, total employment continued to decline in manufacturing and construction. After a growth of 2,300 in the previous quarter, total employment declined by 8,500 in Q1 2017. Year-on-year, it was also lower than in the first quarter of 2016 (13,000). The contraction was mainly due to a decrease in work permit holders in manufacturing and construction.
Employment in manufacturing continued to decline (by 4,400) in the first quarter of 2017, though it eased from the sharp contraction in the fourth quarter of 2016 (-6,500).
Construction employment contracted (-12,900) for the third consecutive quarter. The declines were offset by services where employment continued to grow by 8,700 in the first quarter of 2017. Growth was however lower than the seasonal increase of 17,100 in the fourth quarter of 2016 and the same period a year ago (13,200).
The report also showed that the country’s resident unemployment rate had remained unchanged in the first quarter of this year. Preliminary estimates showed that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was unchanged for residents (3.2%) and citizens (3.5%) in March 2017 compared to December 2016; after rising from September 2016.
Including foreigners, overall unemployment rate rose from 2.2% to 2.3%. Although the unemployment rate has trended up in recent quarters, it remained below recessionary high in 2009 (overall: 3.3%, resident: 4.9%; citizen: 4.9%)
Additionally, March 2017 saw an estimated 74,400 unemployed residents - including 67,100 Singapore citizens - broadly similar to December 2016.
Photo / Ministry of Manpower