Singapore reports jobs revival but restrictions see migrants lose out

SINGAPORE, Jan 31 (dpa): In line with other end-of-year economic indicators, Singapore reported "a broad improvement" in employment numbers during the fourth quarter of 2020.

Unemployment fell for the second month in a row in December, the Manpower Ministry rsaid in a report, as South-East Asia's wealthiest nation's "resident employment" rebounded "to pre-Covid levels."

Singapore's overall labour market showed "improvement from the contractions in early 2020" - in keeping with other recently reported yardsticks.

On Tuesday (Jan 26), the Economic Development Board estimated that a 7 per cent manufacturing output expanded by 7 per cent in 2020, while other government calculations published this month showed exports growing in November and a less-than-expected 5.8 per cent gross domestic product contraction for the year.

However, the Manpower Ministry also reported that "non-resident" employment fell by around 16 per cent over the course of the year, with over 180,000 jobs lost in sectors such as construction that were hit hard by the coronavirus crisis and related restrictions.

The pandemic, the ministry said, had "a significant impact on the labour market in 2020."

An April-June lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the virus, which in Singapore mostly affected migrants working on building sites or in sectors such as security or shipping, forced non-essential businesses to close and saw thousands of foreign workers confined to their usually-crowded residences.

Almost all of Singapore's approximately 60,000 coronavirus infections were among migrant workers from countries such as Indonesia and Myanamar and were diagnosed during the second and third quarters of the year. - dpa
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