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Singapore – Unemployment rises to 2.1%

13 September 2013

A tight labour market has seen unemployment remaining low, though it rose slightly during the second quarter of 2013. These are the key findings from the ‘Labour Market Second Quarter 2013’ report released by the Ministry of Manpower.

The seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rate was 2.1% in June 2013, up from 1.9% in March 2013. Long-term unemployment remained low and stable. Total employment rose by 33,700 during Q2 2013, higher than the gains of 28,900 in the previous quarter and 31,000 during Q2 2012. Total employment in Singapore in June 2013 was 3.4 million, an increase of +4% from a year ago.

In the first half of 2013, local employment gains exceeded foreign employment gains. Local employment rose by 34,100, up from 22,800 in the same period last year. Foreign employment growth (excluding Foreign Domestic Workers) slowed to 27,000, down from the gains of 34,100 in the same period of 2012. This was the smallest growth since the first half of 2010, reflecting the continued fall in the number of Employment Pass (EP) holders and slower growth in Work Permit (WP) and S Pass holders.

Growth in foreign workers was largely driven by the construction sector due to infrastructure and housing developments. Excluding the construction sector and FDWs, foreign employment grew by just 11,700 in the first half of 2013, compared to the gains of 18,600 in the same period last year. The labour market is expected to remain tight for the rest of the year.

Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said: “Foreign employment growth moderated in the first half of 2013. The growth was largely driven by the needs of our construction sector. We will continue to take progressive steps to reduce the inflow of foreign workers, and urge companies to adopt practical productivity improvement strategies, as we move towards a manpower-lean economy. We will continue to press on with restructuring for quality economic growth that will generate good job opportunities for Singaporeans.”

The Ministry of Manpower intends to continue its approach of taking progressive steps to moderate foreign employment growth, as part of the Government’s effort to achieve quality economic growth driven by sustained productivity improvement. As restructuring picks up pace, the Ministry of Manpower intends to make sure that workers who are displaced have access to help to acquire new skills and find suitable jobs through WDA’s Caliberlink or Career Centres at the Community Development Centres.

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