CNA downplays rise in unemployment rate

Below are two reports about Singapore’s economic scenario. Channel News Asia chose to bury the statistic that the unemployment rate rose from 4.5 percent to 5.9 percent in the middle of its report.

Singapore unemployment up sharply

Singapore’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate surged to 5.9% by the end of September with the city-state’s fragile economic recovery not doing enough to absorb a rising pool of job seekers, the government says.

Employment in the three months to September quarter showed signs of picking up after eight consecutive quarters of decline but retrenchments continued and new graduates have joined the job search, the manpower ministry said.

Formerly inactive workers have also started looking for employment, attracted by forecasts of better economic growth in the second half, pushing the unemployment rate up.

“Although employment is starting to improve, the gains are not sufficient to absorb the increased pool of job seekers as this year’s new entrants join the labour market,” the ministry said in a statement.

“Preliminary estimates show that the seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rate rose from 4.5% in June 2003 to 5.9% in September 2003.”

Among the resident labour force – Singaporeans and permanent residents – the rate was 6.3 perent at end-September, also higher than the 4.9% in June.

An estimated 3,700 workers were retrenched in the September quarter, up 28% from the previous year, bringing the total number of unemployed residents to 95,500.

Goods-producing industries, most of them in the electronics sector, accounted for more than half of those laid off in the three months to September.

The government expects the economy to grow between zero and one percent this year but economists say employment will lag the economic recovery by several months.

Singapore’s economy is only just starting to recover from the impacts of the Iraq war and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome this year.

Jobs in Singapore picking up, retrenchments down
Channel News Asia

Employment in Singapore has shown signs of picking up after eight consecutive quarters of decline, according to the Manpower Ministry.

Preliminary estimates indicate that total employment rose by 1,000 in the third quarter of 2003, after declining by 26,000 in the previous quarter.

The Ministry attributed this to the return of more services jobs as companies affected by the SARS outbreak in the previous quarter have started hiring, against the backdrop of a strengthening economy.

It said the services-producing industries recorded an increase in employment of 4,500, a reversal from the decline in the second quarter.

Although the job market has improved, the Ministry said the gains were not sufficient to absorb the increased pool of job seekers as this year’s new entrants join the labour market.

Preliminary estimates show that the seasonally-adjusted overall unemployment rate rose from 4.5 percent in June 2003 to 5.9 percent in September 2003.

Retrenchments were down in the third quarter.

A survey of private sector establishments each with at least 25 employees shows that an estimated 3,700 workers were retrenched.

This is 28 percent lower than the previous quarter.

The goods-producing industries accounted for 1,900 or slightly over half of the workers retrenched, contributed significantly by the layoffs in the electronics industry.

The services-producing industries made up another 1,800 of the workers laid off.