Somehow our heads got all confused with the news that was released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) this morning.
The MOM released its Labour Market Report for the first quarter of 2015 and it said that the labour market remained tight in the first quarter of 2015, as the unemployment rate trended lower amid fewer redundancies, and job openings continued to outnumber job seekers.
It added that overall employment contracted in the first quarter of 2015, reflecting seasonal declines and sharper moderation in employment growth in sectors with less favourable business conditions.
What does this mean?
We break things down for you so that it’s easily digestible:
1.) Overall labour market remained tight
This means that our employment figures from January 2015 to March 2015 are relatively healthy. This happens when you have more available jobs than people looking for jobs. This also means that employers must compete to get employees.
While it may seem like a good thing for jobseekers, a tight labour market might not actually be a good thing for companies if they don’t restructure to become manpower-lean and be more productive. In fact, they will find it difficult to find manpower in future.
2.) Unemployment rate trended lower
When the unemployment rate trends lower, this just means that the unemployment rate is on a downward trend. For the 1st quarter of 2015, the overall unemployment rate declined from 1.9% in December 2014 to 1.8% in March 2015. This means that the number of unemployed for this quarter is lesser than the previous quarter.
3.) Long-term unemployment improved
Long-term unemployment (LTU) refers to those who have been unemployed for at least 25 weeks. In the 1st quarter of 2015, 11,200 residents, making up 0.5% of the resident labour force had been looking for work for at least 25 weeks in March 2015. This was down from 12,900 or 0.6% last year.
LTU improvement was seen in most age and education groups except for degree holders and those aged below 30. This is due to the changing demographics of our workforce reflecting a better educated workforce. Also, this is not a sustained trend as the LTU rate improved over the year in the previous two quarters.
4.) Fewer redundancies
3,500 workers were laid off in the 1st quarter of 2015 as compared to the 3,910 in the previous quarter and 3,110 in the 1st quarter of 2014. The higher share of PMETs (Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians) made redundant actually reflects that our workforce is now better educated.
5.) Overall Employment contracted
A contraction of employment simply means that the number of people employed has declined. In the 1st quarter of 2015, overall employment contracted by 6,100. This was down from the seasonal high increases of 40,700 in the preceding quarter.
But note that the number reflects “seasonal declines” which means that the decline might be usual in reflecting a drop in employment during this period for various reasons.
So in the larger scale of things, while employment has contracted in the last quarter, there are actually good results that we can be proud of.
But that being said, employers should continue to pursue higher ground by becoming manpower-lean and achieve better productivity. Employees too should play their part and undergo training and skills upgrading courses to remain employable.