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     FrontPage Edition: Tue 16 December 2003

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Labour Market - 3rd quarter 2003 report

The Manpower Research and Statistics Department has published a report on "Labour Market, Third Quarter 2003". The 44-page report provides an update on the state of the labour market in the third quarter of 2003.

Overall employment showed signs of picking up after eight consecutive quarters of decline. Total employment rose by 900 in the third quarter of 2003 after contracting by 25,963 in the previous quarter.

The turnaround was brought about by the return of more services jobs as companies affected by SARS in the previous quarter have started hiring, against the backdrop of a strengthening economy.

The services sector recorded an increase in employment of 3,025, a reversal from the decline in the second quarter.

Employment in the goods-producing industries fell by 2,125, the smallest loss in nearly 3 years. 

The construction industry accounted for most of the employment losses.

Employment in the manufacturing sector appears to have bottomed out as manufacturing activities continue to pick up.

Employment gains, however, were not sufficient to absorb the increased pool of job seekers as this year’s new entrants join the labour market.

The seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rate rose from 4.5% in June 2003 to 5.9% in September 2003. This exceeded the previous high of 4.6% hit in September 2002. Among the resident labour force (Singaporeans and permanent residents), the rate was 6.3% in September 2003, also higher than the 4.9% in June 2003.

The high seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in September 2003 is also due to an increase in people rejoining the labour force to look for work.

The better economic outlook in the second half this year has attracted more of the economically inactive back to the labour force, thus pushing the unemployment rate up. This is seen in a 1.5 percent points gain in the resident labour force participation rate from June to September 2003.

September's rise in unemployment partly stems from the lower-than expected unemployment in June 2003 as in the light of SARS and the weak job market then, a number of job seekers had deferred their job search to take a break while others took up training or furthered their studies.


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Public Holidays CHRISTMAS DAY is the next public holiday. It falls on 25 December 2003.