Preliminary estimates showed that the seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rate edged up to 1.9% in March 2013 from 1.8% in December 2012. Similarly, the unemployment rate for residents rose to 2.9% from 2.7%, while the citizen unemployment rate was unchanged at 2.9%. Even with the increase, the rates were still substantially below the high of 3.3% overall and 4.9% for residents and citizens experienced in September 2009 during the last recession.
An estimated 57,800 residents, including 50,000 Singapore citizens were unemployed in March 2013. The seasonally adjusted figures were 60,600 for residents and 52,900 for citizens.
Amid continued weakness in the economy and the foreign worker tightening measures, growth in employment has slowed. Total employment is estimated to have grown by 20,800 in the first quarter of 2013. This was substantially below the seasonally high gain of 44,000 in the last quarter of 2012, and was the lowest gain for first quarter in the post-2009 recession period (2010: 36,500; 2011: 28,300; 2012: 27,200). This brought total employment to 3,378,400 in March 2013, which was 3.8% higher than a year ago.
The slowdown in employment growth was broad-based. While services (14,600) continued to generate the majority of employment gains in the first quarter of 2013, growth was lower than in the first quarter of 2012 (15,800). Similarly, the growth in construction workforce slowed to 7,800 from 8,700. Following persistent weakness in manufacturing output, the sector shed workers (-1,800) for the first time in five quarters.
Layoffs have declined, after rising in the previous two quarters. An estimated 2,000 workers were made redundant in the first quarter of 2013. This was lower than the 3,350 workers affected in the preceding quarter and 2,600 in the first quarter of 2012.