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Labour Market, First Quarter 2012

15 June 2012

  1. The labour market showed signs of softening, though it was still relatively strong. Employment creation eased and unemployment rose slightly in the first quarter of 2012. Job vacancies also declined, suggesting that manpower shortages have eased. These are the key findings from the “Labour Market, First Quarter 2012” report released by the Ministry of Manpower’s Research and Statistics Department.

    Main Findings
  2. Employment creation moderated, though it remained fairly strong. Total employment rose by 27,200 in the first quarter of 2012. This was lower than the seasonal high increase of 37,600 in the fourth quarter and 28,300 in the first quarter of 2011.
  3. The bulk of employment gains in the first quarter of 2012 continued to come from services (15,800), mainly community, social & personal services (8,800) and administrative & support services (3,400). Construction continued to register strong increase of 8,700, while manufacturing employment rose by 2,000.
  4. Unemployment rose slightly over the quarter. The seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rate increased from 2.0% in December 2011 to 2.1% in March 2012. Similarly, the unemployment rate increased over the same period for residents from 2.9% to 3.0% and citizens from 3.0% to 3.2%.
  5. Long-term unemployment also increased. 14,000 or 0.7% of the resident labour force had been looking for work for at least 25 weeks in March 2012, up from 11,800 or 0.6% a year ago. They formed nearly one in four (24%) of the 59,100 unemployed residents in March 2012.
  6. Layoffs declined, after rising in the previous quarter. 2,600 workers were made redundant in the first quarter of 2012, down from 3,250 in the fourth quarter of 2011, after increasing from 1,960 in the third quarter of 2011. Based on CPF records, 50% of the residents laid off in the fourth quarter of 2011 secured employment by March 2012. This rate of re-entry into employment within six months of redundancy declined from 59% in December 2011 and 60% in September 2011, but was still higher than the low of 43% in June 2009.
  7. Job openings declined, suggesting that manpower shortages have eased. The number of job vacancies declined by 5.1% over the year to 46,800 in March 2012. After adjusting for seasonality, job vacancies declined by 9.7% over the quarter to 50,000, though this was still higher than the recent low of 49,200 registered in September 2011. Along with the rise in unemployment, the seasonally adjusted ratio of job vacancy to unemployed person fell to 105 job openings for every 100 job seekers in March 2012 from 120 per 100 in December 2011.
  8. Labour productivity contracted by 2.2% over the year in the first quarter of 2012, after declining by 0.5% in the previous quarter. Meanwhile, the nominal average (mean) monthly earnings rose slightly over the year by 0.9% in the first quarter of 2012, lower than the increase of 4.0% in the preceding quarter. Weighed down by inflation, the real average (mean) monthly earnings fell over the year by 3.9% in the first quarter, after declining by 1.4% in the fourth quarter last year.

    For More Information
  9. The report is available online on the MOM's Statistics and Publications webpage.