SINGAPORE'S economy may have slowed considerably in the third quarter of this year, but the labour market stayed very tight.
The unemployment rate, already near the record low, dipped further, and job vacancies per job seeker rose for the first time this year, according to new government figures released on Friday.
And although fewer jobs were created compared to the previous quarter, the overall numbers stayed relatively strong, buoyed by sectors like construction.
"Labour demand remains healthy and exceeds available labour supply despite weak GDP (gross domestic product) growth," noted Bank of America Merrill Lynch economist Chua Hak Bin.
Home-Fix managing director Low Cheong Kee said many companies like his remain in need of workers because it has been hard to hire due to the tight foreign worker policy.
The economy shrank 5.9 per cent in the third quarter from the quarter before, with every sector contracting except business services, which was flat.
But this did not help cool the labour market much. Job creation remained robust, with 26,200 jobs added, slightly fewer than the 31,700 added last quarter. Construction helped pull the number up. It added 9,700 jobs, up from the figure in the same period last year, as the sector took on more public infrastructure projects.
The unemployment rate dipped to 1.9 per cent from 2 per cent the quarter before. The jobless rates for residents and Singapore citizens stayed at 2.8 per cent and 3 per cent respectively, both near their record lows for the decade.
But the tightness in the labour market was reflected most notably in the number of job openings per job seeker unexpectedly bucking a falling trend for most of the year. There were 125 openings for every 100 job seekers in September, up from 91 in June.