Singapore (VNA) – Singapore’s unemployment rate continued to drop for the fourth consecutive month in February as the economy has recovered, according to the Ministry of Manpower.

The overall unemployment rate fell to 3.0 percent in February, down from 3.2 percent in January. Resident unemployment, which refers to Singapore citizens and permanent residents, declined to 4.1 percent, from 4.3 percent in the preceding month.

The unemployment rate peaked in September last year and persisted through October, before falling steadily since November.

Under the Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI), payouts were made to 27,000 employers, who collectively hired 130,000 locals in the first three months of scheme implementation.

According to local analysts, business sentiment is picking up, with the effective management of the pandemic allowing for more workers to return to their workplaces. The government’s support, such as the JGI, and policy tweaks that favour Singaporeans have also contributed to falling unemployment rates.

Singapore’s economy is expected to contract only slightly in the first quarter as activity continues to recover from a pandemic-induced shock, a Reuters poll showed, with the central bank expected to stay pat at its policy review next week.

Its gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to contract 0.2 percent in January-March from the same period a year earlier.

The outlook for manufacturing and exports is positive this year amid resilient demand for semiconductors and electronics products, while construction should rebound, Maybank Kim Eng economists said.

Services will likely see more gradual recovery with more easing of social distancing measures, and as borders start to reopen in the second half of the year to vaccinated travelers, they added./.