Labour Market, Third Quarter 2011
- Employment growth was strong and unemployment dipped in the third quarter of 2011. Total employment grew by 31,900 in the third quarter of 2011, higher than the gains of 24,800 in the preceding quarter and 20,500 in the third quarter last year. Over the first nine months this year, total employment grew by 85,000, slightly higher than the gains of 82,000 in the same period in 2010.
- The bulk of the employment gains in the third quarter of 2011 came from services (21,200), slightly higher than in the preceding quarter (20,200). Supported by public sector projects, construction workforce rose by 6,800, higher than the gains of 3,600 in the previous quarter. Manufacturing registered gains of 3,700, up from 800 in the preceding quarter.
- The seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rate declined slightly from 2.1% in June 2011 to 2.0% in September 2011. Similarly, the unemployment rate for residents dipped from 3.0% to 2.9% and for Singapore citizens from 3.1% to 3.0% over the same period. An estimated 52,600 residents including 45,700 Singapore citizens were unemployed in September 2011. The seasonally adjusted figures were 61,400 for residents and 53,200 for citizens, slightly lower than 62,600 and 55,000 respectively in June 2011.
- Long-term unemployment remained low. 19% or 9,800 of the unemployed residents in September 2011 had been looking for work for at least 25 weeks, down from 21% or 11,200 a year ago. These long-term unemployed residents formed 0.5% of the resident labour force in September 2011, unchanged from a year ago.
- Layoffs of workers in the third quarter remained low, though workers on short workweek/temporary layoff have risen1. 1,960 workers were made redundant in the third quarter of 2011, slightly lower than the 2,020 in the preceding quarter. The number of workers on short work-week/temporary lay-off rose substantially from 180 in the second quarter to 660 in the third quarter, the highest since the first quarter of 2010.
- CPF records showed that six in ten residents laid off in the second quarter of 2011 secured employment by September 2011. This rate of re-entry into employment within six months of redundancy rose for the third consecutive quarter. Nevertheless, it remained below the previous high of 67%-79% in the first half of 2008 before the recession.
- Job vacancies dropped by 3.4% over the quarter to 54,000 in September 2011, but remained 7.6% higher than a year ago1. After adjusting for seasonality, job vacancies registered its first quarterly decline (-13%) since March 2009, departing from the rising trend following the recovery from the last recession. Along with the decline in unemployment, the seasonally adjusted ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons at 1.15 in September 2011 was largely unchanged from the 1.16 a quarter ago.
- Driven mainly by a rebound in manufacturing, labour productivity grew over the year by 2.3% in the third quarter in 2011. This was a reversal from the decline of 2.4% in the previous quarter.
- Nominal average (mean) monthly earnings rose over the year by 5.4% in the third quarter of 2011, lower than the 6.0% growth in the preceding quarter. After taking into account headline inflation, real average monthly earnings slipped by 0.2%, the first decline after six consecutive quarters of year-on-year growth. Over the first nine months of 2011, average monthly earnings rose by 6.7% in nominal and 1.5% in real terms.
- The net weighted balance of services firms expecting to expand headcount moderated to 7% in the fourth quarter of 2011 from 17% in the previous quarter. In manufacturing, a net weighted 2% of firms expect to reduce employment in the fourth quarter of 2011, in contrast to a net weighted 10% that expect to increase employment in the third quarter of 2011.
- In summary, the third quarter saw strong employment growth and a slight improvement in unemployment. Redundancy remained low, though workers on short workweek/temporary layoff have risen. The employment outlook for the fourth quarter of 2011 has softened, as employers turn cautious, in anticipation of weaker economic conditions ahead. Already, the seasonally adjusted job vacancies had declined over the quarter in September 2011, departing from the rising trend over the past nine quarters. Going forward, employment gains are expected to moderate, beyond the temporary rise in manpower demand during the year-end and Lunar New Year festivities.
For More Information
- The report is available online on MOM's Statistics and Publications webpage.
1Data pertain to private sector establishments each with at least 25 employees and the public sector.