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    Sep 16, 2016

    Fewer vacancies than job seekers, a 1st in 4 years

    THE slowing economy has cast a pall over the labour market, with more people losing their jobs and companies having fewer job openings in the second quarter of this year than in the first quarter.

    Also, for the first time in four years, there were fewer vacancies than job seekers, according to data released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) yesterday.

    This means workers have to moderate their expectations for pay and job prospects and be prudent in spending, said DBS economist Irvin Seah.

    "The writing is on the wall.

    "We will continue to see a softening labour market because of further risks to economic growth," he added.

    The overall unemployment rate rose to 2.1 per cent in June this year after taking into account seasonal fluctuations which could include Chinese New Year and the school holidays.

    It was 1.9 per cent in March.

    For Singaporeans, unemployment rose to 3.1 per cent in June, from 2.6 per cent in March. The rate for Singaporeans and permanent residents combined rose from 2.7 per cent to 3 per cent over the same period.

    Job vacancies, which have been falling steadily since last year, hit 49,400 in June.

    As a result, the ratio between job opening and jobless person fell below 1 for the first time since June 2012.

    "It may be increasingly difficult to characterise the jobs market as tight," said Citi economist Kit Wei Zheng, noting that wage growth could slow.

    The ministry, in a separate statement, gave total employment growth in the first six months of this year, saying it picked up against the same period last year despite manufacturing continuing to shed workers.

    But local employment fell slightly by 200 in the first half of the year, less than the drop of 8,900 in the first half of last year.

    Meanwhile, a net 11,800 foreign employees were added in the first half of the year, excluding foreign domestic workers.

    The bulk of these, or 9,300, were work permit holders, many of whom found work in the food and beverage and administrative and support services industries.

    This brought the total number of workers in Singapore to 3,673,400 as of June.

    Additional reporting by Olivia Ho