News: Unemployment higher in Q3, despite growth in employment rate

Dec 13, 2019

Total employment growth in Q3 2019 more than tripled from Q2 2019, even as the overall unemployment rate crept up.  

Employment rate in Q3 2019 has increased by three times compared to the previous quarter, even as total unemployment rate crept up, reported CNA.

Data from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) showed that the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate increased from 2.2% in Q2 2019 to 2.3% in Q3 2019.

The unemployment rate for Singapore citizens climbed from 3.2% in Q2 to 3.3% in Q3, while the unemployment for residents rose from 3.1% to 3.2%.

However, total employment (excluding foreign domestic workers) for Q3 grew by 21,700, or more than triple than the 6,200 increase posted in the previous quarter. It is also significantly higher compared to the 16,700 growth over the same period last year.

The services sector saw the highest employment growth, led by modern services, community, social and personal services as well as administrative and support services. 

MOM: Employers are more cautious in hiring

However, the number of job vacancies in Q3 2019 declined to 42,200 compared to 47,700 in Q2 2019.  

Despite this, MOM noted that job opportunities remain available, especially for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) within the services sector.

READ: Presenting The Singapore Property Market Outlook 2020

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said the growth in employment indicates “some resilience” in the labour market.

She also said that the growth in the unemployment rate is because employers are being more cautious in hiring. She also said that the time it takes for jobseekers to secure a role also contributes to the rise in unemployment. 

Retrenchment on the rise, but still lower than last year’s figures

Meanwhile, retrenchment also increased from 2,320 in Q2 to 2,430 in Q3. However, this figure was still lower compared to last year’s 2,860.

Business restructuring and reorganisation emerged as the top reason for retrenchments during the period under review, said MOM.

Commenting on the labour outlook, Teo said she “would still be quite cautious” since the number of job vacancies indicates that “confidence is still not quite so strong”.

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Victor Kang, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email

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