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Singapore Unemployment at 2.1 Per cent in March


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by Jared Heng

Employment creation moderated slightly in Singapore during this year’s first quarter, though it remained fairly strong.

Total employment is estimated to have grown by 27,400 in the period, according to the ‘Employment Situation, First Quarter 2012’ report released by the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) Research and Statistics Department on Monday.

The increase was lower than the seasonal high of 37,600 new jobs in last year’s fourth quarter and the 28,300 in the first quarter of 2011.

Another key finding of the report was that the seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rate increased slightly from 2.0 per cent in December 2011 to 2.1 per cent in March 2012.

The unemployment rate rose over the same period for residents from 2.9 per cent to 3.0 per cent and citizens from 3.0 per cent to 3.2 per cent.

An estimated 59,100 residents, including 52,800 Singapore citizens, were unemployed in March 2012. The seasonally adjusted figures were 64,000 for residents and 57,700 for citizens.

These came amid the rise in layoffs in the earlier quarter that has since eased off in the first quarter this year.

According to MOM, the bulk of the employment gains in the first quarter continued to come from services, which added 19,800 workers.

Construction continued to register a strong increase of 8,000.

Manufacturing employment declined by 500. This was the second consecutive quarter of decline, but the losses have eased from the 1,400 in the fourth quarter of 2011.

An estimated 2,700 workers were made redundant in the first quarter of 2012. This was lower than the 3,250 workers affected in the preceding quarter, but close to the 2,750 laid off in the first quarter of 2011.

Manufacturing laid off fewer workers (800) in the first quarter this year, after its large cutback in the preceding quarter (1,660).

MOM said this more than offset the increases in layoffs in services ‒ from 1,360 to 1,600 ‒ and in construction ‒ from 240 to 300.