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Employment growth slowed in Q4, 2020 outlook 'a lot more uncertain': MOM

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Employment growth slowed in the final quarter of 2019 though it held up well for the full year, according to the Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) Labour Market Report 2019.

EMPLOYMENT growth slowed in the final quarter of 2019 though it held up well for the full year, according to the Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) Labour Market Report 2019

The outlook for 2020 is a lot more uncertain given the fallout from the Covid-19 outbreak, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo. It would be "unrealistic" to expect employment growth to be high and unemployment low, she told reporters during a visit to ST Logistics on Tuesday.

Despite slower economic growth last year, total employment growth was 57,000 - higher than 38,300 in 2018 and a five-year high - but the pace of employment growth in the fourth quarter of 2019 eased to 18,300, compared to 21,700 in the third quarter.

The unemployment rate for the full year rose slightly but remained in the relatively low range of recent years. The overall unemployment rate for 2019 was 2.3 per cent; for residents it was 3.1 per cent and citizens 3.3 per cent. The resident long-term unemployment rate remained steady at 0.7 per cent.

Retrenchments in the fourth quarter of 2019 rose, from 2,470 in the third quarter to 2,670 in the fourth quarter. For the full year, retrenchments remained low at 10,690, similar to levels in 2018 (10,730).

The rate of re-entry into employment among retrenched locals for 2019 was a bit higher at 64 per cent against 63 per cent in 2018. The job openings to unemployed persons ratio held steady at 0.84 in the final quarter of 2019, after trending down in previous quarters.