SINGAPORE - Employment growth was strong with 31,900 more jobs recorded in the third quarter of 2011, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Thursday.

MOM said in a press release Q3 jobs growth was higher than the gains of 24,800 in the preceding quarter and 20,500 in the third quarter last year.

Over the first nine months this year, total employment grew by 85,000, slightly higher than the gains of 82,000 in the same period in 2010.

The bulk of the employment gains came from services, with a gain of 21,200 jobs, slightly higher than the 20,200 recorded in the preceding quarter.

Supported by public sector projects, construction workforce rose by 6,800, higher than the gains of 3,600 in the previous quarter. Manufacturing registered gains of 3,700, up from 800 in the preceding quarter.

Jobless rate 2%
The seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rate declined slightly to 2.0 per cent in September from 2.1 per cent in June.

Similarly, the unemployment rate for residents dipped to 2.9 per cent from 3.0 per cent and for Singapore citizens to 3 per cent from 3.1 per cent.

In September, long-term unemployed residents formed 0.5 per cent of the resident labour force, unchanged from a year ago. Long-term unemployed residents are people who had been looking for work for at least 25 weeks.

Layoffs of workers in the third quarter remained low, though workers on short workweek/temporary layoff have risen. Their numbers rose substantially to 660 in the third quarter, the highest since the first quarter of 2010, from 180 in the second quarter.

After adjusting for seasonality, job vacancies registered its first quarterly decline of 13 per cent since March 2009, departing from the rising trend following the recovery from the last recession. Job vacancies dropped by 3.4 per cent over the quarter to 54,000 in September 2011, but remained 7.6 per cent higher than a year ago.

Labour productivity grew over the year by 2.3 per cent in the third quarter in 2011, driven mainly by a rebound in manufacturing. This was a reversal from the decline of 2.4 per cent in the previous quarter.

Cautious outlook
MOM said the employment outlook for the fourth quarter of 2011 has softened, as employers turn cautious, in anticipation of weaker economic conditions ahead.

'Already, the seasonally adjusted job vacancies had declined over the quarter in September 2011, departing from the rising trend over the past nine quarters.'

'Going forward, employment gains are expected to moderate, beyond the temporary rise in manpower demand during the year-end and Lunar New Year festivities.'