SINGAPORE: The labour market improved in 2018, with employment of locals growing in the fourth quarter of last year, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Thursday (Jan 31).
The annual average unemployment rates were lower than a year ago, while retrenchments were "significantly fewer", added MOM.
Total employment, excluding foreign domestic workers, increased by 15,600 in Q4. That was slightly lower than the 16,700 increase in Q3, the report revealed.
"The increase was due to employment growth in services, primary from seasonal hiring. Manufacturing employment decreased over the quarter, while Construction employment was unchanged," MOM said.
Overall in 2018, total employment, excluding foreign domestic workers, grew by 39,300, with the growth among locals at 28,400 - more than double that of foreigners. Local growth was primarily in the services industries, such as community, social and personal services, and financial and insurance services.
According to the latest report, average unemployment rates were lower in 2018 than the year before, but overall unemployment rate was higher in the last quarter of the year. It rose from 2.1 per cent in September 2018 to 2.2 per cent in December 2018, MOM said.
The number of retrenchments were also "significantly lower" in 2018 compared to the year before because of the economy's continued expansion, the report concluded.
Last year, 11,020 people were laid off while 14,720 were retrenched in 2017.
For the fourth quarter, retrenchment numbers stood at 2,800, similar to the 2,860 retrenchments recorded in Q3 and lower than 3,680 a year ago.
Singaporean workers continued to earn higher incomes in the last five years as well, said MOM. It added that the real median income, including employer CPF contributions, of full-time employed Singaporeans increased by 3.6 per cent per annum from 2013 to 2018, significantly higher than the 1.7 per cent per annum in the previous five years.
The labour growth outlook for Singapore "will remain modest due to the underlying demographics of an aging population and low birth rates", noted the ministry.
"As economic growth moderates, workers and businesses need to remain agile and responsive to economic restructuring and the evolving employment landscape," it concluded.