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Singapore labour market strengthened in Q3 but hiring shows signs of slowing
SINGAPORE'S labour market continued to improve in the third quarter of this year, but several indicators show hiring may be slowing amid global uncertainties.
Official figures released on Thursday by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) confirmed the trends in the preliminary estimates released in October. From June to September, more people were employed here and fewer people lost their jobs.
But overall unemployment crept up slightly, and the proportion of residents who found work last quarter within six months of being retrenched slipped to 62 per cent, down from 64 per cent in the second quarter. Lower re-entry rates were seen across all age groups.
There were more than enough vacancies for jobseekers in the third quarter, but the surplus dipped as labour market tightness started to ease. The seasonally-adjusted ratio of vacancies to unemployed people was 1.05 in September, down from 1.1 in June.
This was due to an increase in the overall number of unemployed people, and a slight decline in the total vacancies for the whole economy, said MOM in its report.
Also, the long-term unemployment rate for residents - that is, Singaporeans and permanent residents - went down to 0.6 per cent in September, from 0.7 per cent in June, after taking seasonal variations into account. This rate measures the share of residents who are jobless and looking for work for at least 25 weeks.
On the bright side, from June to September, the number of people employed here grew by the fastest rate in four years. Total employment, excluding foreign domestic workers, rose by 16,700, compared with 6,500 in the previous quarter.
Higher-skilled sectors saw good employment growth, said the ministry. These included professional services, information and communications, financial and insurance services, and community, social and personal services.
In all, there were 3,446,300 people working in Singapore in September, excluding foreign domestic workers.
Fewer people lost their jobs in the third quarter, with retrenchments falling to 2,860, down from 3,030 in the previous quarter and 3,400 in the third quarter of last year.
The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for Singaporeans was the same in September as in June, at 3 per cent, while the rate for residents also held steady at 2.9 per cent.
However, overall unemployment was 2.1 per cent in September, up from 2 per cent.
MOM cautioned that hiring momentum may moderate against a backdrop of external trade tensions and slowing growth in Singapore's key final demand markets.
It highlighted the information and communications, financial and insurance services, healthcare, professional services, wholesale trade and built environment sectors as those where job opportunities remain good.
THE STRAITS TIMES