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Companies more cautious in hiring as Q2 job growth slows: MOM

SINGAPORE — Employers are exercising greater caution when hiring even if they have unfilled vacancies, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Friday (July 26) as its latest quarterly labour report showed weaker job growth.

The unemployment rate crept up in the second quarter from the first, but the number of workers retrenched actually fell.

The unemployment rate crept up in the second quarter from the first, but the number of workers retrenched actually fell.

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SINGAPORE — Employers are exercising greater caution when hiring even if they have unfilled vacancies, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Friday (July 26) as its latest quarterly labour report showed weaker job growth.

Unemployment rates inched up in the second quarter ended June 30, amid challenging global economic conditions.

Despite the slower job growth, the number of workers who were retrenched in the second quarter actually declined compared with the first quarter, the report said.

JOB GROWTH

A total of 4,000 jobs were added to the labour market in the second quarter, well down from 10,700 jobs added in the first quarter. In the second quarter of 2018, 6,500 jobs were added.

Sectors which saw job growth included information and communications, professional services, financial services and construction.

Sectors which contracted: Manufacturing and retail trade.

UNEMPLOYMENT

Although the seasonally-adjusted overall unemployment rate remained at 2.2 per cent, both resident and citizen employment rates inched up, continuing a trend which started in September 2018.

  • Resident unemployment rate: Increased from 3 per cent in the first quarter to 3.1 per cent

  • 72,400 residents were unemployed in June 2019, compared with 69,700 three months earlier

  • Citizen unemployment rate: Crept up from 3.2 per cent in the first quarter to 3.3 per cent

  • 64,300 citizens were unemployed in June 2019, compared with 62,200 three months earlier

MOM said that the increase was “in part due to more persons entering the labour force to look for work". It added: "They were possibly prompted to look for jobs now, in anticipation of the slowdown in the pace of hiring with the uncertain economic conditions."

RETRENCHMENT

Fewer workers were retrenched in the second quarter compared with the previous quarter. The number was also down over the second quarter last year.

“This suggests that while firms had slowed down their hiring, they were not laying off existing workers,” MOM said.

Number of people retrenched:

  • Second quarter 2019: 2,300

  • First quarter 2019: 3,320

  • Second quarter 2018: 3,030

Sectors most affected by retrenchments:

  • Services (74 per cent)

  • Manufacturing (22 per cent)

  • Construction (4 per cent)

In an environment where hiring is subdued, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said “being flexible” would help job seekers greatly.

“Jobseekers may find opportunities in sectors and occupations they have no prior experience or interest in. Whenever they are ready to make a move, there are programmes to support them, such as the more than 100 Professional Conversion Programmes in over 30 sectors,” she said.

Assistant Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress, Mr Patrick Tay, who is also Member of Parliament for West Coast Group Representation Constituency, urged companies to find other ways of cutting costs to save jobs, “instead of cutting jobs to save costs”.

“Just as how we’ve managed to overcome the series of slowdowns and downturns in the past two decades, the labour movement stands ready to work closely with our tripartite partners to help our workers tackle tough times,” he added.

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