SINGAPORE (The Strait Times/Asia News Network): Border restrictions and manpower demand in growth sectors have pushed job vacancies in Singapore to an all-time high of 92,100 in June, according to the Ministry of Manpower on Wednesday (Sept 15).
There were 163 job openings for every 100 unemployed persons in June. The ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons increased to above one for the first time since March 2019. These are seasonally adjusted figures.
“The ongoing border restrictions have affected the availability of manpower in construction and manufacturing,” said the MOM.
“There was also sustained demand in growth sectors like financial and insurance services, professional services, and information and communications.”
Meanwhile, resident unemployment continued to ease in the first half of this year, MOM's second-quarter labour market report showed.
Overall, seasonally adjusted unemployment rates were at 2.7 per cent in June this year, continuing a downtrend.
The seasonally adjusted resident long-term unemployment rate also dipped to 0.9 per cent in June, from highs recorded in December last year and March this year (1.1 per cent).
The labour market performance remains uneven across sectors, with sectors such as food and beverage (F&B) services seeing a temporary easing of demand, leading to an overall rise in the number of employees who were placed on short work weeks or temporary layoffs.
But such consumer-facing sectors, including F&B as well as retail trade, should start to recover as domestic restrictions are eased over the course of the year.
However, these sectors are not expected to return to pre-Covid-19 levels due to the subdued tourism outlook, the ministry cautioned.
Tourism- and aviation-related sectors also continued to be impacted by Covid-19 and are recovering at a slower rate.
MOM said these sectors are "projected to see a slow recovery as travel restrictions globally are likely to be lifted cautiously and global travel demand may also remain sluggish amidst the spread of more contagious strains of the virus".
It added that activity in these sectors is expected to remain significantly below pre-Covid-19 levels even by the end of the year.
Quarterly, the number of retrenchments rose slightly from 2,270 in the first quarter this year to 2,340 in the second quarter, amid the phase two (heightened alert) measures.
Permanent Secretary for Manpower Aubeck Kam told reporters in a briefing on Wednesday that the retrenchment figures still remain within the pre-pandemic quarterly range.
There is some concern for mature workers, he noted, with the unemployment rate rising for residents in their 40s and also residents with degree qualifications.
"But in the second quarter, the rates of retrenched workers who re-entered the workforce, rose for all age groups below 50," Kam said.
It also rose for people who were previously retrenched from clerical sales and service work, and also for people who held degree qualifications.
Ang Boon Heng, director of MOM's manpower research and statistics department, said that unemployment generally affects older workers.
But he noted that the unemployment rates for those aged 40 to 49 fell from 4.1 per cent in December last year to 3.2 per cent in March this year, before rising again to 3.7 per cent in June.
"We have to monitor this and see whether it forms a trend or it's just those little fluctuations that we see... I wouldn't make too much of this (unemployment rates for those aged 40-49) unless there is a broader increase across all age groups."