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     FrontPage Edition: Thu 15 June 2006

Employment grew strongly by 45,000 in first quarter 2006


With continued economic growth, employment grew strongly by 45,000 in Q1 06, more than double the increase of 17,800 in the same period last year.
All the major sectors registered increases in employment. The bulk of the employment gains continued to come from the services sector (28,000).
Strong increases were also registered in manufacturing (11,100) and construction (5,600), which saw much higher job gains than the quarterly increases in 2005.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stabilised at 2.6% (overall) and 3.4% (resident1) in Mar 062, unchanged from three months ago3.
There was also a notable improvement in the long-term unemployment from a year ago. Some 10,100 residents or 18% of the unemployed residents have been looking for work for at least 25 weeks in Mar 06, about half the 20,200 or 30% a year ago.
Correspondingly, the resident long-term unemployment rate dropped sharply from 1.1% in Mar 05 to 0.5% in Mar 06, the lowest in eight years for the March period. The mature and less educated continued to form the bulk of the long-term unemployed.
However, retrenchment in private sector establishments with at least 25 employees rose for the third consecutive quarter. Some 3,511 workers were retrenched in Q1 06. This is 9.7% higher than in the previous quarter (3,200) and 62% more than in the same period last year (2,168), due to a number of largescale retrenchment exercises in the electronics industry.
Private sector job openings numbered 21,2004 vacancies in Mar 06, which is 21% more than a year ago (17,500). Compared with Dec 05 (19,800), this is 6.9% higher, but after discounting for seasonal influences, private sector job vacancies in Mar 06 was broadly unchanged from a quarter ago.
As both the seasonally adjusted unemployment and job vacancies in Mar 06 were largely unchanged from the previous quarter, the ratio of job vacancy to unemployed persons held steady at 60p job openings for every 100 job seekers in Mar 06 (seasonally adjusted) from Dec 05. Nevertheless, this is a significant improvement from the trough of 22 job openings for every 100 job seekers in Sep 03.
Labour turnover increased from a year ago. Reflecting increased hiring, the average monthly recruitment rate rose from 2.5% in Q1 05 to 2.9% in Q1 064.
The average monthly resignation rate also rose over the same period from 2.1% to 2.2%, due to higher resignation rate among professionals, managers, executives and technicians from 1.5% to 1.7%.
Bolstered by strong economic growth, productivity growth strengthened by 4.8% in Q1 06, from the previous quarter¨s 3.3%.
In the first three months of 2006, average nominal monthly earnings based on CPF records grew by 3.0%, higher than the 2.2% in the previous quarter. After adjusting for inflation, real earnings registered smaller increases of 1.6% and 1.1% respectively.
In summary, the labour market continued to register strong growth in the first quarter this year on the back of sustained growth in the economy.
Employment grew at a robust pace even as retrenchment rose because more manufacturing jobs were lost to lower-cost destinations.
Though more workers were added to the economy, productivity growth continued to improve, driven by robust output expansion.

1 Refers to Singapore citizens and permanent residents.

2 Figures are preliminary.

3 Dec 05 seasonally adjusted unemployment rates were revised upwards from an earlier reported 2.5% (overall) and 3.3% (resident) to 2.6% (overall) and 3.4% (resident) respectively as a result of annual updating of seasonal factors.

4 Data pertain to private sector establishments each with at least 25 employees.

Source: Press Release 15 Jun 2006

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