Singapore unemployment rises amid growth
The economy, however, is still growing, unlike previous slowdowns, he noted in an annual message ahead of May Day on Monday.
But it is going through a structural transition that requires more time and effort to pull through, he added, calling on workers to adapt and businesses to transform to seize opportunities being created.
Complementing his call, labour movement leaders Mary Liew and Chan Chun Sing said that the National Trades Union Congress will step up efforts to train workers for today’s and tomorrow’s jobs.
Economists noted that though sectors like shipping remain tepid, areas such as health care and infocomm technology show promise.
The messages coincide with the release of job figures by the Manpower Ministry that show the fall in the number of people with jobs in the first three months of the year is the largest since the 2003 SARS outbreak.
But the unemployment rate for residents last month remained unchanged from last December, at 3.2 percent, after seasonal adjustments, yesterday’s figures show.
Lim noted retrenchments were on the rise, and resident unemployment rose to 3 percent last year, after holding steady at around 2.8 percent since 2012. The situation reflects the slowing economy, which grew by about 2 percent in the past two years, down from an average of 4.5 percent previously.
The rise in unemployment is still below the peaks recorded in the past 15 years: more than 5 percent during the 2003 Sars outbreak, and more than 4 percent during the 2009 global financial crisis, he said. But today’s challenges are “no less daunting,” he added.</span>