Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower has released its Labour Market Report for the first quarter 2019. The report shows most indicators suggest that the labour market has held up, even though the economy slowed. Total employment continued to grow, higher than the first quarter of 2018. The resident unemployment rate held steady, while long-term unemployment rate declined. However, while there continued to be more job vacancies than job seekers, the tightness in the labour market may ease, as job vacancies declined for the first time in two years and retrenchments rose in this quarter.
The seasonally-adjusted overall (2.2 per cent) and resident (3.0 per cent) unemployment rates remained unchanged in March 2019, after rising in the previous quarter. However, the citizen unemployment rate continued to edge up slightly from 3.1 per cent in December 2018 to 3.2 per cent in March 2019. The resident long-term unemployment rate declined from 0.8 per cent in December 2018 to 0.7 per cent in March 2019.
Total employment (excluding foreign domestic workers (FDW)) grew by 10,700 in the first quarter of 2019, significantly higher than the same period a year ago (400). The growth was lower than the fourth quarter of 2018 following the end of festive season hiring. Services was the main driver of total employment growth, while construction posted its first employment gain in three years, reflecting an increase in both public and private sector construction activities.
After seven preceding quarters of increases, the demand for labour eased, with fewer seasonally-adjusted job vacancies in March 2019 (57,100) compared to December 2018 (62,300). There continued to be more vacancies than job seekers, although the seasonally-adjusted ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons dipped slightly from 1.10 in December 2018 to 1.08 in March 2019.