There were fewer job-seekers chasing more job openings in the third quarter of the year.

This brought the number of vacancies per job-seeker to a six-year high, according to latest figures released by the Manpower Ministry yesterday.

Along with lower unemployment and continued strong job growth, the picture was of a labour market that remains tight.

The seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rate was 1.8 per cent in September, down from 2.1 per cent in June.

For citizens, the rate fell over the quarter from 3.1 per cent to 2.8 per cent. For residents, it went down from 2.9 per cent to 2.6 per cent.

More workers were in jobs. Employment grew by 33,100 in the third quarter, higher than the preliminary estimate of 28,100.

And there were still more jobs unfilled. Seasonally adjusted job vacancies rose 5.9 per cent from the quarter before.

There were 1.41 vacancies for every unemployed person in September - the most since December 2007.

Fewer workers lost their jobs, and more of the unemployed found jobs within six months. Of those laid off from March to June, 52 per cent had a job by September, up from 51 per cent of the previous cohort.

But there was one spot of gloom: long-term unemployment.

In September, 12,500 residents had been unemployed for at least 25 weeks, representing 0.6 per cent of the resident labour force.

This was up from 9,500 such residents and a rate of 0.4 per cent a year ago.

Experts said the strong hiring picture was unsurprising given better economic prospects.

"It suggests that the recent revival in the global economic outlook is boosting employers' outlook," said SIM University economist Randolph Tan, who expects this momentum to continue.

In recruitment firm Randstad's recent Workmonitor Report, 64 per cent of those surveyed expect Singapore's economic situation to further improve next year. It is thus not surprising that firms are hiring, said country director for Singapore Michael Smith.

Such strong job growth is more than the Government has targeted. Its target for the decade is 1 to 2 per cent a year. In contrast, total employment in September was up 4.2 per cent from the year before, at 3.45 million.

But economists expect things to slow next year, as the labour market continues tightening and foreign labour curbs bite.

UOB economist Francis Tan expects employment to grow by 107,000 in 2014, compared to a forecast of 123,000 this year.

Job growth next year could also be held back by a "rising job-skills mismatch", said Barclays economist Joey Chew.

She noted that the rise in job vacancies came largely from clerical, sales and services openings, in retail and food and beverage.

Yet unemployment of residents with secondary education and below is lower than average, meaning there are few such job-seekers.

There could thus be a mismatch, unless the service industry redesigns jobs and raises pay to appeal to more educated workers, said Ms Chew.