Layoffs last year highest since 2009
IN WHAT could be a sign of worse things to come, more workers lost their jobs last year amid weaker economic conditions, although unemployment remained low.
A total of 15,580 workers were laid off in 2015, the fifth consecutive year of rising redundancies, according to full- year official data released by the Manpower Ministry (MOM) yesterday.
Last year's number climbed 20 per cent from 12,930 in 2014 and was the highest since the 2009 global financial crisis, which saw 23,430 workers laid off.
Job vacancies also fell to 53,700 as of December after accounting for seasonal variation, down 18 per cent from 65,500 a year earlier.
The trend could continue. "Amid the cyclical weakness and as the economy restructures, some consolidation and exit of businesses is expected," MOM said.
Just over half, or 51 per cent, of the Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs) made redundant from July to September last year were back in employment by the end of the year.
This figure measures the re-entry rates within six months of redundancy based on Central Provident Fund (CPF) records, and was down from 55 per cent three months earlier and 59 per cent at the end of 2014.
Still, the unemployment rate last year remained unchanged for Singaporeans, at 2.9 per cent. The figure including PRs was 2.8 per cent, up from 2.7 per cent in 2014.
There were 2,268,900 Singaporeans and PRs in jobs in Singapore as of the end of last year, just 700 more than there were a year earlier - when local employment had grown by 96,000.
With employment of foreigners also slowing, the total number of workers here stood at 3,656,200 at the end of last year.
For the year ahead, MOM expects redundancies to continue to rise in sectors facing weak external demand and that are undergoing restructuring, while domestic services sectors are likely to continue to need workers.
The Ministry added that it is "closely monitoring the current economic and labour market situation, and is strengthening employment support to help displaced locals re-enter employment".