Singapore to keep unemployment below 5.2%

Singapore aims to keep its unemployment rate below 5.2 percent this year, Xinhua reported yesterday. That means the unemployment rate could more than double this year.

Singapore's overall unemployment rate averaged 2.3 percent in 2008, up from 2.1 percent in 2007.

Singapore experienced 5.2 percent unemployment in March 2003 when it rose to that level from 4.2 percent in December 2002, according to another Xinhua report in 2003.

Australia is currently experiencing 5.2 percent unemployment, a four-year high, according to a Reuters report published by the Straits Times.

Singapore Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong said yesterday the unemployment rate for the first quarter of 2009 is likely to be higher than for the fourth quarter of 2008 and detailed statistics will be released shortly. He said his ministry is seeing more retrenchment notices being issued.

But jobs are still available in several sectors, he added.

Not enough job ads to fill a newspaper pullout

However, job ads are reaching vanishing point in Singapore’s leading newspaper.

The Straits Times no longer publishes a regular separate pullout advertising jobs. Recruit, the job ads section, was tacked on to the Classified pullout on Saturday for a simple reason – the job ads did not fill enough pages to be run as a separate pullout. And even the few pages that were there included display ads for job training and not just job openings. The jobs available seemed to be mostly for technicians and retail workers. There were few openings for professionals.

The Manpower Minister is putting on a brave face.

Government schemes like the Skills Programme for Upgrading and Resilience (Spur) are helping companies cut costs to save jobs, he said, reports Channel NewsAsia.

But how quickly the Singapore economy recovers depends much on external factors like the global economy’s performance, it added.

The minister was quoted as saying: “"We must prepare ourselves for another few quarters of downturn.”

In other words, the downturn is not likely to end soon and the Singapore economy has become like the global climate – dependent on the rest of the world.