Singapore’s unemployment rate hits decade high hinh anh 1Illustrative image (Photo: internet)

Singapore (VNA) - The latest labour market report released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) reveals that the country’s unemployment rate in the first quarter of 2020 hit 2.4 percent, the highest in a decade.

Total employment, excluding foreign workers, recorded its largest quarterly contraction on record as it shrank by 25,600 in the first quarter after growing by 19,800 in the previous quarter.

The decline was more than what was seen during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in the second quarter of 2003 and the global financial crisis in the first quarter of 2009, when employment contracted by 24,000 and 8,000 respectively.

The food and beverage, arts and entertainment, and administrative sectors saw the largest decline in job vacancies, while openings in areas like infocomm technology and health care increased.

The construction, trade and tourism-related industries were among those most impacted by reductions in employment. The number of people employed in F&B, construction and retail trade saw the sharpest employment declines, falling by 8,300, 5,800 and 5,400 respectively.

Singaporean Manpower Minister Josephine Teo cautioned that the full effects of COVID-19 were not yet felt in the first quarter.

Activity levels in January were still quite high given the new year festivities, she said. And though tourism had been badly hit since February, most travel restrictions were not yet in place and the “circuit breaker” did not take effect until April.

Therefore, there could be many more employees placed on shorter work weeks or temporary layoffs, she noted.

As for the future, Teo said that Singapore has to get ready for more layoffs and to help those who have lost their jobs.

“We have to try our very best to open up more pathways for the job seekers,” she said, citing the national jobs strategy that aims to create 100,000 job opportunities. Part of the strategy is to have the public sector bring forward its hiring plans./.