Unemployment rates in Singapore have declined slightly for the fourth month in a row, according to figures released on April 7 by the Ministry of Manpower.
Overall unemployment in February was 3.0 percent, down from 3.2 percent in January. Resident unemployment was 4.1 percent, down from 4.3 percent, and citizen unemployment was 4.3 percent, down from 4.5 percent. These figures represent an ongoing slow reduction since September 2020, but the numbers all still remain higher than pre-pandemic figures.
Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo linked the small-scale improvement to government schemes to boost hiring, in particular the S$1 billion Jobs Growth Incentive Scheme launched last September to encourage businesses to hire more local employees. The scheme saw a takeup of 27,000 employers in its first three months, accounting for about 130,000 workers. Going forward, the government had announced that it will be gradually winding down its support for hiring, with wage subsidies most likely ending in September 2021.
The minister advised employers and job seekers alike to be more open-minded about the candidates and roles they are willing to consider. “With every dip in the unemployment rate, the next drop will likely be harder to achieve,” she wrote in a note on the statistics. “It depends on whether hiring demand is sustained among employers, and their willingness to look beyond candidates with familiar profiles. The remaining jobseekers too may need to consider job roles or sectors they previously did not, and be willing to invest time to re-skill.”
Some estimates suggest that hiring in some sectors, especially technology and financial services, will continue to rise this year. One report by Michael Page even estimates that 40 percent of Singapore companies will be hiring in 2021.