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Labour Market Report First Quarter 2015

Job Market Remained Tight with Lower Employment in the First Quarter of 2015

  1. The labour market remained tight in the first quarter of 2015, as the unemployment rate trended lower amid fewer redundancies, and job openings continued to outnumber job seekers.
  2. After five years of strong increases1, employment contracted in the first quarter of 2015, amid seasonal declines and sharper moderation in employment growth in the manufacturing and construction sectors, and as well as segments of the services sector (retail trade, real estate services and accommodation & food services). Apart from industry-specific factors, this may be reflective of how:

    a) segments of the economy could be transiting to be less manpower-reliant; and
    b) further growth in the local labour force is expected to be limited, given the gains in labour force participation already achieved in recent years.
  3. Nevertheless, as the data is only representative of a single quarter, the employment numbers will need to be monitored over subsequent quarters to obtain a fuller picture. These are the key findings from the “Labour Market, First Quarter 2015” report released by the Manpower Research and Statistics Department, Ministry of Manpower.

    Main Findings
  4. Unemployment declined over the quarter for overall (from 1.9% to 1.8%), residents (from 2.7% to 2.5%) and citizens (from 2.7% to 2.6%) in March 20152.
  5. In terms of possible industry-specific factors, employment in the first quarter of 2015 declined in manufacturing (-6,900) amid weak output growth in marine & offshore engineering and the completion of chemicals maintenance projects. Construction employment also contracted (-3,600). These losses were partly offset by continued increases in services (4,300), including community, social & personal services (6,500) and administrative & support services (2,000). Within the services sector, employment declined in retail trade (-4,800) and accommodation & food services (-1,800), on the back of weak tourist arrivals in the first quarter of 2015. Real estate services (-1,900) also posted a decline in employment as the outlook in the private residential market softened.
  6. Reflecting seasonal declines and sharper moderation in employment growth in sectors with less favourable business conditions, employment contracted by 6,100 in the first quarter of 2015. On a year-on-year basis, total employment grew to 3,617,800 in March 2015, which was 2.7% higher than a year ago.
  7. Redundancies remained low at 3,500 in first quarter of 2015 where 1.7 workers were made redundant per 1,000 employees, as compared to 1.9 in the preceding quarter and 1.6 a year ago.
  8. The rate of re-entry into employment within six months of redundancy declined slightly in March 2015, after trending up over the last three quarters.  Based on CPF records, 57% of the residents made redundant in the fourth quarter of 2014 secured employment by March 2015, down slightly from the 59% experienced by the previous cohort (laid off in the third quarter of 2014) in December 2014. A lower re-entry rate in the first quarter is not uncommon, as laid-off workers may have taken a break during the festivities before re-entering.
  9. The number of job openings held steady from the previous quarter and continued to outnumber job seekers. With fewer job seekers, the seasonally adjusted ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons edged up to 143 openings per 100 seekers in March 2015, from 142 in December 2014. Vacancies were available across all skill levels, with about half (49%) of the vacancies in March 2015 were for PMETs.

    For More Information
  10. The report is available on the Ministry of Manpower’s website at

1 The employment change averaged 31,700 per quarter in the last five years.

2 Seasonally adjusted.