SINGAPORE: The citizen unemployment rate in Singapore rose slightly in the second quarter of this year, according to figures released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Thursday (Sep 12). 

MOM also released its statement on Labour Market Developments for the first half the year, with total employment increasing by nearly 17,000 jobs. It also noted bright spots in the construction and services sector.


The jobless rate for citizens stood at 3.3 per cent at June 2019, compared with 3.2 per cent in March 2019, MOM said in its Labour Market Report for the second quarter of this year. 

The overall seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained unchanged at 2.2 per cent, with jobless rate for residents growing to 3.1 per cent from the previous quarter’s 3 per cent. 

Unemployment Q2

Total employment (excluding foreign domestic workers) increased by 6,200 in the second quarter of 2019, similar to the growth in 2019 (6,500). 

Employment change Q2

The bulk of employment growth was in services (5,400) although the growth in the sector was at its lowest since the third quarter of 2016, MOM said. 

The construction sector continued its expansion, adding 2,700 jobs. MOM said this reflected the upturn in demand arising from public sector construction activities. 

But manufacturing posted a third straight quarter of employment contraction, shedding 1,500 jobs, as output in the sector fell.

More locals employed, overall improvement in labour market in 2018: MOM

Total employment change by industry

While there were fewer retrenchments in the second quarter of this year compared to the first, MOM also noted that the number of job vacancies declined for the second consecutive quarter. 

There were 2,320 retrenchments in the second quarter, compared to the 3,230 in the previous quarter and 3,030 a year ago.

The number of job vacancies fell from 57,100 in March to 47,700 in June. 

As a result, the seasonally adjusted ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons dipped to 0.94 for the first time since December 2017, MOM added. 


In its statement on Labour Market Developments for the first half of this year, MOM said that despite economic headwinds total employment for the first six months of 2019 expanded by 16,900. 

That figure, which excludes foreign domestic workers, is higher than the first six months of 2018 (6,900). 

However, local employment (5,300) grew at a slower pace in the first half of this year than it did for the same period in 2018 (6,500). 

The number of foreigners (not including foreign domestic workers) employed in Singapore grew by 11,600 in the first half of 2019. This figure represents a significant jump compared to the same period last year, which was 400.

MOM attributed this increase to a sustained growth in the services sector and a turnaround in the construction sector. 

Excluding construction and foreign domestic workers, foreign employment in Singapore grew by 7,900 in the first half of 2019, compared to the 6,000 for the corresponding period last year, MOM said. 

total employment H1


Retrenchments remained low and the resident long-term unemployment rate held steady, MOM said.

For the first half of 2019, 5,550 employees were retrenched – comparable to the number of retrenchments (5,350) for the corresponding period in 2018.

Restructuring and reorganisation remained the top reasons for retrenchments cited by establishments, according to MOM. 

MOM also noted that the six-month re-entry rate into employment of retrenched residents was 63 per cent in the first half of 2019, similar to the same period in 2018.


Employment in the manufacturing sector fell by 4,700 in the first half of this year, a larger decline than it was for the first six months of 2018 (-3,900). 

This dip also reversed from the expansion of 1,500 jobs in the sector for the second half of 2018. 

“The employment decline in the manufacturing sector came mainly on the back of output declines in the electronics, transport engineering and precision engineering clusters,” MOM said.

“The hiring outlook in the manufacturing sector is likely to remain cautious as the weak performance of the electronics and precision engineering clusters in the first half of 2019 is expected to be sustained for the rest of the year due to the deterioration in the outlook for global semiconductor demand.”

Employment in the construction sector grew by 2,800 in the first half of 2019, reversing declines in the first half of 2018 (-6,400) and the second half of last year (-700). The employment gains came amid a recovery in construction activities, MON said.

It added: “Construction output is likely to see a turnaround this year after three consecutive years of contraction. The recovery in the construction sector is expected to support employment growth in the sector.” 

Total employment in the services sector also grew by 19,000 in the first half of the year.

This represented a rise from the 17,100 jobs added in the sector for the same period last year, but lower than 30,800 jobs added for the last six months of 2018.

“Employment growth was broad-based, driven by the community, social and personal services, professional services, financial and insurance services, and information and communications sub-sectors,” MOM said. 

“The employment gains in these sub-sectors more than offset declines seen in the accommodation, retail trade, and wholesale trade sub-sectors.”

With the Ministry of Trade and Industry downgrading Singapore’s 2019 economic growth forecast to between 0 and 1 per cent, MOM said that job opportunities will continue to be present in the sectors that had robust employment growth in the first half of 2019. 

These sectors were community, social and personal services, professional services, financial and insurance services, and information and communications.