In the fourth quarter, the jobless rate inched higher for both residents (3.0 percent vs 2.9 percent in Q3) and citizens (3.1 percent vs 3.0 percent).
Total employment increased by 15,600, slightly lower than the preceding quarter (16,700). Employment in services (excluding foreign domestic workers/FDW) grew in the fourth quarter (17,500), higher than that in the previous quarter (13,800), supported by hiring for the year-end holidays and festive season. Construction employment was unchanged amid weakness in public sector construction. Manufacturing employment reverted to a decline (-2,000) from the increase in third quarter 2018 (3,500).
Some 2,800 workers were laid off, similar to the third quarter (2,860), while lower than the same period a year ago (3,68). Manufacturing retrenched fewer workers, offsetting the increase in retrenchments within services. Retrenchments in construction remained similar.
For 2018 the whole year, unemployment rate inched lower to 2.1 percent from 2.2 percent a year earlier. The jobless rate declined for both resident (2.9 percent vs 3.1 percent in 2017) and citizens (3.0 percent vs 3.3 percent). This reflected the general downtrend of the unemployment rates since March 2017 highs. Total employment (excluding FDW) grew by 39,300. The increase was driven by services which added 48,300 workers. On the other hand, sustained employment contractions were seen in construction (-6,700) for the third consecutive year and for the fifth consecutive year in manufacturing (-2,400). Still, the extent of the declines moderated. Compared with 2017, the number of layoffs was significantly lower than in 2017 (11,020 vs 14,720), as the economy continued to expand. Retrenchments declined across the three broad sectors over the year. Services continued to form the bulk of retrenchments (65 percent), followed by manufacturing (24 percent) and construction (11 percent).