In the three months to March, the jobless rate fell for residents (2.8 percent from 3 percent), while was unchanged for citizens (at 3 percent).
Total employment increased by 3,700, following the seasonal high in the previous quarter (10,700), and was a reversal from the decline in the same period a year ago (-9,400). Excluding foreign domestic workers (FDW), employment grew by 400. Total employment growth was supported by an increase in services (9,700 excluding FDW), led by community, social & personal services (3,900), financial & insurance services (2,800), transportation & storage (2,300) and information & communications (1,800). On the other hand, due to fewer Work Permit Holders, manufacturing and construction saw employment contracted by 3,800 and 5,600 respectively, though the decline was smaller than a year ago (-4,400 and -12,500 respectively).
Some 2,320 workers were laid off, a decrease from 3,680 workers in the December quarter to a five-year low. The decline over the quarter was broad-based across industries. Services formed the bulk of the retrenchments (63 percent), mainly in wholesale trade, financial services, and professional services. Business restructuring and reorganisation continued to be the top reason cited for retrenchments.
The rate of re-entry among retrenched residents fell for the second straight quarter to 61 percent. The decline was more notable among professionals, managers, executives and technicians/PMETs, residents with post-secondary (non-tertiary) and diploma & professional qualifications, as well as residents aged 30 to 39. On the other hand, residents aged below 30 and 50 & over, as well as those with secondary and below qualifications posted increases in re-entry rate over the quarter.
The number of job vacancies among private sector establishments with at least 25 employees and the public sector rose to 53,900 from 49,700 in the fourth quarter, similar to the level observed in December 2015 (54,000). Coupled with fewer unemployed persons over the quarter, the seasonally adjusted ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons improved to 104 per 100 jobseekers from 92 in the December quarter. It is the first time since the first quarter 2016 that there were more job openings than unemployed persons.