In the three months to September, the jobless rate held steady for both residents (at 2.9 percent) and citizens (3.0 percent).
Total employment increased by 16,700, more than double the increase in the previous quarter (6,500), and was the highest quarterly growth since the fourth quarter of 2014 (38,300). Services was the main driver of total employment growth (13,800 excluding foreign domestic workers /FDW), led by higher-skilled sectors such as professional services (3,400), information & communications (3,100), community, social & personal services (2,500) and financial & insurance services (2,500, mostly in financial services). Employment also rose in manufacturing (3,500), after sustained declines since the fourth quarter of 2014. Within manufacturing, employment increases were mainly seen in electronics (1,600), transport equipment (1,500) and petroleum, chemical & pharmaceutical products (1,300). Although employment in construction continued to contract in the third quarter of 2018 (-300), the decline has eased considerably from the preceding quarters.Cumulatively for the first three quarters of 2018, total employment (excluding FDW) grew by 23,600, a contrast to the contraction of 21,400 in 2017.
Some 2,860 workers were laid off, lower than that in the second quarter (3,030) and a year ago (3,400). The decline was observed in construction, while manufacturing and services posted broadly similar levels of retrenchments. Business restructuring and reorganisation remained the top reason for retrenchment, accounting for 60 percent of total retrenchments. On the other hand, retrenchments due to recession and poor business declined.
Meanwhile, the six-month re-entry rate among retrenched residents fell to 62 percent from 64 percent in the June quarter, and relatively similar to the first quarter (61 percent). The decline was due to those previously employed in clerical and production & related jobs.
The tightening of the labour market may have started to ease. Even though there continues to be more vacancies than job seekers for the third consecutive quarter, the seasonally adjusted ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons dipped to 1.05 in the third quarter from 1.10 in the previous period. This was due to an increase in the overall number of unemployed, and a slight decline in total vacancies for the whole economy.
The seasonally adjusted recruitment and resignation rates eased from a quarter ago. However, hiring activity remained higher than the same period a year ago. Recruitment rates were higher across most industries, with larger increases observed in real estate services, cleaning & landscaping, construction and higher-skilled industries such as financial services and professional services. Resignation rate declined over the year, led by food & beverage services and administrative & support services.