In the three months to March, the jobless rate for residents was steady (at 3.0 percent), while that for citizens edged up to 3.2 percent from 3.1 percent in Q4.
Total employment (excluding foreign domestic workers/ (FDW) rose by 10,700, lower than in Q4 (14,700) following the end of festive season hiring, but significantly higher than the same quarter a year ago (400). Services was the main driver of total employment growth (13,600 excluding FDW), supported by gains in community, social & personal services (5,800, nearly half from public administration & education), professional services (2,800), administrative & support services (2,200), financial services (1,600), information & communications (1,200) and transportation & storage (1,200). Meanwhile, construction posted its first employment gain in three years, reflecting an increase in both public and privatesector construction activities.
Some 3.230 workers were laid off, up from 2,510 workers in Q4 and from 2,320 a year earlier. The increase was driven by manufacturing (1,040 from 380 in Q4), and affected mainly production &
related workers from electronics. Consequently, electronics formed 18 percent of retrenchments in the first quarter of 2019, followed by services industries such as wholesale trade (16 percent) and transportation & storage (10 percent). While restructuring and reorganisation remained the main reason cited by establishments for retrenchments, there was a rise in the share of retrenchments from the previous quarter due to high costs and downturn in the industry.
The six-month reentry rate among retrenched residents rose for the second consecutive quarter to 66 percent from 64 percent in Q4. The increase was observed for most age, education and occupational groups, except for residents aged below 30, clerical, sales & service workers, as well as the post-secondary (non-tertiary) educated.
After seven preceding quarters of increases, the demand for labour eased, with fewer seasonally-adjusted job vacancies in the March quarter (57,100), compared to 62,300 in Q4. There continued to be more vacancies than job seekers, although the seasonally-adjusted ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons dipped slightly to 1.08 in Q1 from 1.10 in Q4.