Singapore’s unemployment rate hits decade high
The overall unemployment rate in Singapore rose to a decade high of 2.4% in Q1 2020 as total employment, excluding foreign domestic workers, shrank by 25,600 in the first quarter, the largest quarterly contraction on record.
According to the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) latest labour market report, 1,537 local employees were affected by business closures in Q1 2020, which is more than double the 628 from the previous quarter. In April alone, about 3,800 companies were forced to close down in Singapore because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
An additional 4,190 employees were placed on shorter work hours or furloughs, which represented a five-fold increase from the 840 in the preceding quarter.
Retrenchments increased from 2,670 to 3,220 in the first quarter, with the unemployment rate among Singapore citizens rising from 3.3 to 3.5%. Among residents, or Singapore citizens and permanent residents, the figure rose from 2.3 to 2.4%.
The construction, trade and tourism-related industries were among those most impacted by reductions in employment, while the number of people employed in F&B, construction and retail trade saw the sharpest employment declines, falling by 8,300, 5,800 and 5,400 respectively in the January to March period.
Earlier, the Singapore government had pledged to create 100,000 jobs in 2021 to help Singaporeans cope with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, said, “We will work hard to make sure everyone who wants a job can get a job. So long as you are able and willing, we will support you.”
That would mean making up the current shortfall in available jobs, where there are only seven openings for every 10 unemployed people. 46,300 job vacancies were available in March 2020, compared to 52,700 in December 2019.
Among the industries that have registered employment growth in Q1 2020 include public administration and education, as well as professional and financial services, amongst others.
To date, Singapore’s COVID-19 support measures have amounted to nearly S$100 billion, including the $33 billion Fortitude Budget introduced in May, which focuses on keeping workers employed and creating new jobs.