Singapore Q3 jobs report: Total employment shrinks; layoffs higher

The manufacturing sector reports a fall in the number of job losses.

Singapore job openings
Office workers walk to the train station during evening rush hour in the financial district of Singapore March 9, 2015 Reuters

Singapore's overall employment rate shrank in the third quarter, marking only the second contraction in employment rates since the 2008-09 recession.

According to the latest Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) Labour Market report, the contraction in the third quarter followed slower growth in the previous two quarters.

The labour market report said that while the number of layoffs fell from the previous quarter, it was higher than a year ago. The department's preliminary data showed 4,100 workers were laid off in the third quarter of 2016, which was marginally down from the 4,800 in the previous quarter.

However, despite this fall in the number of layoffs, the total number of job losses was higher than the 3,460 in the same period a year ago.

The manufacturing sector surprisingly reported a fall in the number of job losses but the construction Services witnessed a spike in redundancies.

The report says there was a broad-based slowdown in employment generation. New jobs in the services sector slowed to 5,700 from 7,600 in the previous quarter. Employment in manufacturing continued to decline by 3,700 for the eighth consecutive quarter, compared to a decline of 3,400 in the previous quarter.

As of September, total employment was pegged at 3.67 million, 0.8 percent higher than a year ago, but lower than the 1.3 percent growth in June 2016 and the average growth of about 2.0 percent in 2015.

Turnaround in manufacturing

On Wednesday, data showed the manufacturing sector in Singapore made a surprise turnaround in September, logging in a 6.7 percent rise in output compared with the same period a year ago.

According to data released by the Economic Development Board (EDB) on Wednesday, solid performance by the electronics and pharmaceuticals sectors helped the manufacturing sector buck the recent trend.

However, a day earlier, the Monetary Authority of Singapore said the relatively steady but mediocre growth in external demand is likely to continue over the near term. Trade dependant Singapore economy weakened over the past six months with all sectors seeing a broad-based downshift, the central bank has said.

A couple of weeks ago Singapore's Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang said the economy is experiencing "some quarters of negative growth" but ruled out the possibility of the country slipping into an an outright recession.

"Our base line projection is not an outright recession, but we cannot rule out the possibility that the economy will experience some quarters of negative growth on a quarter on quarter basis," Lim said.