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SG Employment News !!!

Economic uncertainty puts squeeze on job market

As Singapore's economic growth slowed, employment growth last year hit a 13-year low.

The unemployment rate for residents and the number of layoffs also hit six- and seven-year highs, respectively, preliminary data on the labour market showed yesterday.

Meanwhile, median income growth for Singaporeans in full- time jobs also slowed to 1.3 per cent in real terms, down from 7 per cent the previous year.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said: "The weaker and more uncertain economic environment in 2016 has presented a challenge to sustain growth and stem a rise in unemployment."

Observers expect hiring to be muted this year, amid economic restructuring and uncertainty.

The resident workforce grew by an estimated 10,700 people last year,up 0.5 per cent from the year before. They entered mainly service jobs, such as in community and social services, and transportation and storage.

On the other hand, the foreign workforce - not counting domestic workers - contracted by 2,500 people, or 0.2 per cent, the first year it has fallen since 2009. The decline was mostly in the construction and marine sectors.

Overall, the workforce grew by 16,400, or 0.4 per cent, including domestic workers, the slowest growth since 2003, when employment fell by 12,900.

The moderation took place amid slower economic growth, a slowdown in local labour force growth and continued tightening of the foreign worker policy, MOM said.

Total employment was 3,672,600 last month. With the year-end festivities, employment grew by 1,900 in the fourth quarter, after it fell by 2,700 in the third quarter.

DBS economist Irvin Seah saw this as a glimmer of hope that should continue this year, on the back of stronger manufacturing output over the last two months of last year. "But the impact needs to spill over to the service sector, which is the main contributor to employment, for us to see a sustained lift to the labour market," he said.

While still low, the annual average unemployment rate for Singaporeans and permanent residents last year rose to its highest level since 2010, at 3 per cent, compared with 2.8 per cent the year before.

More people were laid off last year compared with the year before. A total of 19,000 people were retrenched or had their contracts aborted, the highest number since the global financial crisis in 2009. Retrenchments alone hit 16,600.

National Trades Union Congress assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay said on Facebook that while redundancy may be inevitable in certain circumstances, "we urge companies to carry it out in a fair, responsible and sensitive way".

Unions, employers and the Government must work together to help businesses and workers stay relevant, he said. "(It is) important to help our workers stay agile to embrace change and disruption."



  • Layoffs hit 7-year high as restructuring takes its toll

    Impact felt across manufacturing, construction, service sectors; economists say pain could continue in first half.

    Economic restructuring and slower growth took a toll on the labour market last year, which saw the highest number of layoffs since the global financial crisis in 2009.

    A total of 19,000 people were retrenched or had their contracts aborted last year, up from 15,580 the year before.

    Retrenchments alone hit 16,600, according to preliminary full-year data released yesterday by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

    The impact was felt across all the three major sectors of manufacturing, construction and services.

    Economists said the pain could continue for the first half of this year before positive ripples from the improvement in manufacturing output - which grew 21.3 per cent year on year last month - are felt.

    "The green shoots are there with the manufacturing sector doing well, but we need a couple more quarters for that to filter through to the service industries, such as professional services," said UOB economist Francis Tan.

    With less upward pressure on wages last year, the median income grew by just 0.7 per cent for Singaporeans in full-time jobs, to $3,823, including employer contributions to the Central Provident Fund.

    After taking negative inflation into account, the real median income growth was 1.3 per cent.

    This is a significant slowdown from the real growth of 7 per cent in 2015, and OCBC economist Selena Ling said this could worsen, given more cautious hiring intentions.

    "Real wage growth could... stagnate with headline inflation reverting to positive territory," she said.

    Inflation turned positive last month for the first time in more than two years.

    Over the past five years, real income growth at the 20th percentile kept pace with that at the median, at an annual average of 3.2 per cent and 3.1 per cent, respectively.

    For the year ahead, companies are taking a conservative approach to hiring, though there will be an increase in openings in the information technology, government and engineering sectors, said Mr Foo See Yang, managing director and country head of recruitment firm Kelly Services Singapore.

    Employees should look at upgrading their skills, he added.

    More people went for training last year, an official report on the resident labour force also released by MOM yesterday showed.

    An all-time high of 42 per cent of residents aged 15 to 64 in the labour force attended training over the year ending June 2016, up from 35 per cent in the previous year.

    Recruitment firm Adecco Personnel's Singapore country manager Femke Hellemons noted that the increase was driven by professionals, managers, executives and technicians, and training was less common in industries with more lower-skilled or seasonal workers such as accommodation and food services, and administrative and support services.

    "It is this low-skilled group that needs more support and encouragement to upskill and retrain in order to avoid getting stuck in low-paying jobs or being completely left behind in the restructuring economy," she said.

    Meanwhile, Citi economist Kit Wei Zheng said he expects this year's Budget to provide support for employers through the extension of targeted wage subsidies.

    He also hopes that there will be an extension or enhancement of retraining schemes to alleviate long-term unemployment, which rose to a seven-year high in June last year.

  • Thank you for this info
  • Thank you for this info
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