TL;DR – Hope for the best, prepare for the worst
MOM has released the Labour Market Advanced Report for the second quarter of 2017.
Preliminary estimates showed that the the unemployment rate among residents declined from 3.2% to 3.1%, while the unemployment rate among citizens declined from 3.5% to 3.3% from March 2017 to June 2017. In June 2017, an estimated 69,800 residents, including 62,800 Singapore citizens were unemployed, lower than 74,400 and 67,100 in March 2017.
This snapped the upward trend that started in September 2016.
That’s great news! Let’s pop out the champagne and celebrate!
Hang on. Not so fast.
Although unemployment declined over the quarter, they remained higher than a year ago. Also, total employment contracted in the second quarter of 2017. When foreign domestic workers (FDWs) were excluded, total employment contracted by 8,400.
A closer look at the numbers
The pace of decline of employment in manufacturing has moderated in the second quarter of 2017, going down by only 2,500. This reflects the strong growth of the manufacturing sector in the recent months.
On a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis, manufacturing output increased 9.7% in June 2017. Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output grew 4.0%.
However, the trend may not continue. DBS Group Research head analysts Derek Tan and Mervin Song opined that,
“The explosive growth from the manufacturing sector which is has been driven mainly by electronics cluster will likely taper off in 2H17, as seen by a general softening of the PMIs in the US, China and Singapore, implying that the growth in 2H17 will likely turn sideways.”
That may have an adverse impact on employment in manufacturing.
What about other sectors?
Employment in construction contracted for the fourth straight quarter, reflecting the slowdown in public and private sector construction activities. Services employment continued to grow (4,100, or 3,400 when FDWs were excluded). However, growth was slower than the preceding quarter and a year ago.
Put together, these numbers show that our economy isn’t quite out of the woods yet. We still need to continue to transform our industries, grow our economy, and create good quality, well-paying jobs.
To ensure that there are good quality jobs in Singapore, the government is pushing through a whole host of measures.
So, what’s being done?
1. Industry Transformation Maps (ITMS)
One major move that the government is making is to implement the Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs).
Under the S$4.5 billion Industry Transformation Programme, roadmaps will be developed for 23 industries to address issues within each industry and deepen partnerships between Government, firms, industries, trade associations and chambers.
The Future Economy Council (FEC) will take overall responsibility for the implementation of the ITMs. If done well, the implementation of the ITMs will improve productivity and increase innovation, thereby creating better quality jobs for Singaporeans.
2. MOM’s Adapt and Grow
Another major move by the government is MOM’s Adapt and Grow. There is a range of initiatives under Adapt and Grow to help different groups of Singaporeans find jobs, upgrade, and even get skills needed to move into different industries.
3. NTUC’s Returner Work Trial
NTUC is also doing its part to complement MOM’s efforts, and amongst other initiatives is the Returner Work Trial just launched last week.
The Returner Work Trial, launched on 27th July, is a scheme provides employment opportunities for local PMETs who have been unemployed for at least two years. Under the scheme, professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) who are out of a job will receive help getting back into the workforce and wage support.
Check out more information and even vacancies here.
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst
Will these efforts be sufficient to create enough good quality jobs for Singaporeans? We aren’t sure. What we can be sure is that we cannot be complacent and let our guard down. Only then can we ensure that there are enough good quality, well-paying jobs for Singaporeans.