Singapore 2016 employment growth lowest since 2003

Local employment grew modestly in 2016 and foreign employment contracted, the labour ministry said in its report.

Singapore jobs outlook gloomy as only 15% of employers look at hire in Q1 2017
Public servants and contractors sit at their desks at a public housing administration center in Singapore June 13, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su

Employment growth prospects look grim in Singapore with the latest report by the Ministry of Manpower showing total jobs rose only marginally in 2016, recording the smallest increase since 2003.

Total jobs in Singapore rose by 16,400, or 0.4 percent, last year compared with an increase of 32,000, or 0.9 percent in 2015. Weaker and more uncertain economic environment presented challenge to sustained growth in unemployment last year, the report said.

Local employment grew modestly in 2016 and foreign employment contracted, the labour ministry said in its report, adding that employment restructuring was carried out amid a slowing of the economy.

"Unemployment increased for residents and citizens. Redundancies were also higher. Median income for citizens continued to grow over the last five years, although growth slowed in 2016," the Labour market advance release said on Thursday.

The report also says redundancies increased in the fourth quarter with 5,300 workers being laid off compared with 5,300 in the previous quarter.

However, local employment increased by an estimated 10,700 in 2016, rebounding from the flat growth in 2015. "Local employment growth occurred in many services sectors, including community, social and personal services, professional services and transportation and storage," the report said.

On the other hand, foreign employment contracted in 2016, the first decline since 2009."As we transform our industries to create better jobs for Singaporeans at all levels, MOM and Workforce Singapore will step up efforts with tripartite partners to help workers to seize new job opportunities through the various employment and career support programmes under SkillsFuture and Adapt and Grow initiatives," the labour market report said.

Singapore's export-led economy had been pressured by the global downturn for more than a year, with the city state' dominant oil and gas sector suffering long-term setback due to the continued slump in oil prices.

However, the economic growth rebounded in the fourth quarter, helping the trade-reliant city state avoid a technical recession. The economy recorded a faster than expected annual growth rate of 1.8 percent in 2016, data released by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) showed on January 3.

While the growth in the fourth quarter helped avoid a technical recession, which is defined as two straight quarters of declines in economic output, this was the slowest pace at which the economy grew since 2009.

Earlier this week, the International Enterprise Singapore said its figures showed Singapore exports in December rose 9.4 percent on the back of a rebound in the shipment of both electronic and non-electronic goods.

According to the latest survey by the Singapore central bank, private economists projected that growth rate in 2017, will be a marginally faster 1.5 percent.