With the uptick in the labour market in the first half – and economic growth tipped to hum along at a steady clip of 2.5 per cent for the year – the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) sees labour demand picking up in the second half of 2017.
WITH the uptick in the labour market in the first half – and economic growth tipped to hum along at a steady clip of 2.5 per cent for the year – the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) sees labour demand picking up in the second half of 2017.
But some private-sector economists have cautioned that the recovery is likely to be underwhelming.
Selena Ling, head of Treasury Reseach & Strategy at OCBC Bank said in a report that the average annual job creation of 25,000-40,000 which MOM projected, while still reasonable, “may remain a bit of a stretch for 2017 unless job prospects in the second half pick up very significantly”.
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Even MOM, in a statement issued along with its release of the Labour Market Report Second Quarter report on Thursday, said employers in sectors like construction and marine and offshore engineering are expected to stay cautious in hiring.
Foo See Yang, managing director and country head at employment firm Kelly Services Singapore, indicated that though retrenchment numbers have dipped, three-quarters of those axed in the second quarter were professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), up 4 per cent from the first quarter. Nearly two-thirds of the retrenched were aged 40 and above.
“With the digitisation of operations, some employers may be concerned about the adaptability of mature workers as job scopes begin to broaden,” Mr Foo said in reaction to MOM’s report.
Official data shows older and better educated workers among those axed were slower in securing re-employment in the first half of the year. The six month re-entry rate was 54 per cent for mature resident workers (aged 50 and above), 60 per cent for resident degree holders and 61 percent for resident PMETs – lower than the average 64 per cent for resident workers.
Against the first quarter, the labour market generally put on a better showing all round in the April-June period. While the overall unemployment rate in June stayed the same as in March at a seasonally-adjusted 2.2 per cent, resident (3.1 per cent) and citizen (3.3 per cent) unemployment improved.
The retrenchment number slipped from 4,000 workers in the first quarter to 3,640 workers in the second.
Seasonally-adjusted job openings increased while job seekers fell, improving the job vacancies-to-jobless ratio for a straight second quarter to 85 job openings for every 100 employed in June, up from 81 in March and 77 in December 2016.
Total employment still fell in the first six months of the year, but local employment staged a remarkable turnaround to grow by 4,000 – the first increase in three years.
Hiring growth was led by the community, social and personal services, finance and insurance services and information and communication sectors. Foreign employment declined further by 21,400 due to drags from the marine and offshore engineering and construction industries.
Employment fell 8,000 in the manufacturing sector and 23,100 in the construction sector in the first half. Services saw employment jump 13,700, but the number was lower than the first half (15,200) and second half (20,800) of 2016.
According to MOM, the hiring outlook for manufacturing is positive in the second half, though uneven. Construction output is expected to remain lacklustre which will weigh down employment in the sector.
As the global economy is projected to bounce back, MOM said job growth is more likely to be supported by outward-oriented services sectors like finance and insurance and transportation and storage.
Employment growth in the domestically-oriented services sector is tipped to remain stable. Sectors such as community, social and personal services, especially the health and social services segment, should continue to see more hiring.
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