Employment among residents rises to near pre-Covid levels: Report
Experts say while there are glimmers of hope, it will not be all smooth sailing
The jobs market perked up during the third quarter but Singapore is not out of the woods and recovery may be a long process.
A Ministry of Manpower market report yesterday shows that employment rose among residents to near pre-Covid-19 levels while job vacancies were up for the first time this year.
Experts said these are positive signs that the labour market decline is moderating.
Resident employment was up by 43,200 to 2.34 million in September, just 0.4 per cent lower than in the same month last year. But retrenchments still rose in the third quarter.
Overall, the support measures for local employment played a key role in stabilising the job market, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said during a visit to United Overseas Bank.
These include the Jobs Support Scheme and National Wages Council guidelines, which helped to preserve a strong Singaporean core across all sectors, she added.
The SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package, which also helped cushion the fallout, saw a higher-than-expected take up of positions. Almost 60,000 local job seekers were placed into work and training opportunities under the package from April to October, the MOM said in its jobs report, also out yesterday.
More than 120,000 openings are still available.
Other indicators also point to labour market improvement.
Total employment excluding foreign domestic workers declined by 29,100 in the third quarter, a much slower pace compared with the plunge of 103,800 in the second quarter.
While the seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rate rose in September to 3.6 per cent, it was also at a slower pace than the months before. But retrenchments continued to rise, hitting 9,120 in the third quarter, from 8,130 in the second.
Mrs Teo warned that challenges lie ahead as the nature of jobs changes: "We are mindful that moving forward, we will still see retrenchments and people making transitions as transformation efforts continue."
Experts agreed that while there are glimmers of hope, it will not be all smooth sailing.
Ms Selena Ling, OCBC Bank's head of treasury research and strategy, noted: "For 2021 as a whole, the overall and resident unemployment rates may still be slow to return to pre-Covid levels due to the long tail nature of the pandemic." She added retrenchment might still climb as some firms may not survive.
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