HR & EDUCATION | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Total employment shrinks for the first time in 14 years

The foreign workforce shed 32,000 due to less Work Permit Holders in construction and marine.

Singapore's annual average unemployment rate in 2017 climbed to 2.2% from 2.1% in 2016, the Ministry of Manpower (MoM) revealed.

According to flash data, the rate also rose for residents, from 3% to 3.1%, and citizens, from 3.1% to 3.3%.

Total employment, Foreign Domestic Workers (FDW), dropped by 0.3% or 10,700, a first since 2003. This was due to a contraction in foreign employment, even though local employment continued to grow.

Local employment growth nearly doubled by 21,300 or 0.9%. The increases occurred in most services sectors, including community, social & personal services, financial & insurance services, transportation & storage, and administrative & support services.

Meanwhile, the foreign workforce continued to shed by 32,000 or 2.8%, due to the decrease in Work Permit Holders in construction and marine.

Meanwhile, in Q4, the unemployment rate slipped from 2.2% in September to 2.1% in December.

The rate also fell for residents, from 3.1% to 2.9%, and citizens, from 3.2% to 3%.

Total employment, excluding FDW, grew in Q4 to 10,700, after contracting for the first three quarters of the year.

"The increase was due to larger employment growth in Services from seasonal hiring. Manufacturing and construction employment continued to contract, but at a slower pace," MoM said.

The number of retrenchments stayed unchanged from Q3 at 3,300, but it continued to be lower than last year's 5,440.

Retrenchments declined over the quarter in construction and services but rose in manufacturing. 

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