MINISTRY OF MANPOWER JOB CREATION UNEMPLOYMENT
Singapore – Unemployment in Singapore has dropped to a three-year low as the local labour market and economy continue prospering, with the number of jobs on offer returning to pre-crisis figures.
According to the latest quarterly review released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), unemployment rate now stands at 1.9%, with fewer workers being laid off in the first quarter of this year. It was down from 2.2% recorded in December.
There were 28,300 more jobs created in the first three months of 2011. However, this is still behind the robust 36,500 witnessed in the same period last year. MOM said the services industry (26,500) provided the bulk of the jobs, followed by community, social and personal services (9,000), professional services (4,400) and wholesale and retail trade (3,400).
Singapore also experienced an increase in job vacancies, which rose by 32% over the year to 49,300 in March. After seasonal adjustments, the ratio of job vacancies to an unemployed person rose from 104 job openings for every 100 jobseekers to 139 job vacancies to every 100 jobseekers. The ratio in December 2007 prior to the recession was 140 to 100.
There was an increase in nominal average monthly earnings, which rose by 8.5% over the year in the first quarter (Q1) of 2011. After inflation, real average monthly earnings rose by 3.2%. While it is slightly lower than 3.4% in Q4 last year, it is still higher than the 2.1% to 2.8% increase seen in the first three quarters of 2010.
However, Karin Clarke, regional director for Randstad in Singapore and Malaysia, warned this could result in local talent seeking bigger compensation packages. “Employees are demanding higher wages, not only as a reward for their performance, but also to keep pace with higher inflation and increased living costs.”
Clarke said some companies are offering non-financial incentives such as off day-in-lieu in exchange for overtime, paid leave for external training, or management fast-track programmes as alternatives.
Recruitment firm Robert Half said the contract workers will be highly sought after as a result. “Contract workers with niche skills command a pay premium of 5% to 10% over their permanent counterparts, albeit without the same level of employee benefits.”
“We are also seeing the return of skills training and development, which is a particularly high priority for the Millennials generation,” Clarke said. She added this “two-pronged approach” will help minimise turnover rates.
Additionally, 53% of those who were laid off in the previous quarter managed to find employment by March this year, a minimal increase from 51% in December. MOM noted the “improvement in re-entry into employment over the quarter was generally observed across the board”. An estimated 54,300 were unemployed in March while number of layoffs fell from 3,190 in the previous quarter to 2,750 this quarter.
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