Aug 01, 2013

    Layoffs rise but more jobs created in Q2

    UNEMPLOYMENT in Singapore rose for the second consecutive quarter but still remained low, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

    Showing signs that Singapore's tight labour market may be easing up, layoffs also increased "amid business restructuring and consolidation", said MOM in its Employment Situation report for the second quarter, released yesterday.

    Job creation, however, increased in the second quarter from the previous one, with the services sector accounting for the majority of new jobs created.

    The seasonally-adjusted overall unemployment rate in June was 2.1 per cent, based on preliminary estimates, up from 1.9 per cent in March and 1.8 per cent in December last year.

    The resident unemployment rate - for citizens and permanent residents - moved up to 3 per cent, from 2.9 per cent in March and 2.7 per cent in December.

    Looking ahead, Randstad country director of Singapore Michael Smith said that continued low unemployment is expected for the rest of the year, because of strong business confidence here.

    "We are continuing to see demand for specialist skills across the banking and financial-services, life-sciences and technology sectors," he said.

    Mr Mark Hall, vice-president and country general manager for Kelly Services, said the rising unemployment rate may be "short term", because of current global economic uncertainty.

    "During a slowdown, some companies may choose to focus (on) business restructuring instead of hiring, to improve productivity levels," he explained.

    Layoffs rose in the second quarter, affecting about 2,900 workers, compared to 2,120 in the previous quarter, the MOM figures showed.

    The manufacturing sector laid off 1,400 workers, a jump from the 680 workers shed in the first quarter of the year.

    Mr Smith noted that while layoffs rose over the two quarters, there was also a 12.5 per cent rise in the number of jobs created, from 28,900 to 32,500.

    "This indicates (that) jobs remain available, even for those who are in the unfortunate position of being laid off," he said.

    With about 67 per cent, or 21,700, of new positions in the services sector, he said that demand is driven by the "financial-services, oil-and-gas and health-care sectors", by multinational companies basing their regional centres here.

    There is also demand for workers in the hospitality and recreational-services sectors, to support Singapore's tourism industry, he said.

    Mr Hall said: "We can also expect that increasing need for environmentally-sustainable solutions will create opportunities in the engineering-services sector."