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Job market outlook brightens for professionals

THE job market outlook remains bright, particularly for white collar employees, but may be stabilising.

Some 35,500 jobs were unfilled in September, or a vacancy rate of 2.4 per cent, according to data released yesterday by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

This third-quarter scenario was ‘better’ than a year earlier when 29,900 jobs went begging in September 2006, or a 2.2 per cent vacancy rate. But June this year saw higher vacancies – the 37,400 unfilled posts were a 10-year high.

MOM said that the manpower shortage in Q3 was larger for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (usually known as PMETs) and clerical, sales and service staff. Their vacancy rate of 2.7 per cent was markedly higher than the 1.8 per cent for production operators, cleaners and labourers.

Across sectors, more jobs in services (2.8 per cent of total manpower demand) went unfilled in September, compared with manufacturing (1.8 per cent) and construction (1.4 per cent).

Wages continued to rise, but at a slower pace. After accelerating for three straight quarters, monthly earnings rose a slower 6.9 per cent in Q3, down from 8.5 per cent in Q2. In real terms, after adjusting for inflation, Q3 wage growth was 4 per cent, down from Q2’s 7.5 per cent.

The latest data sees the Q3 job creation figure revised up to 58,600 from an early estimate of 57,600 announced last month. This, again, was higher than a year ago but below Q2’s record high of 64,400. In all, the first nine months of 2007 saw the net addition of 172,400 jobs to the economy – not too far from the 2006 total of 176,000.

Retrenchment numbers have also been updated, and going by the 5,709 total for the first three quarters, the number of lay-offs in 2007 should be sharply lower than last year’s 9,388.

As earlier reported, the jobless rate eased to a near-decade low of 1.7 per cent. And at 8,500, the number of ‘long-term unemployed’ residents – those job-hunting for 25 weeks or more – also fell to a 10-year low in September.

About the only blemish in the labour market report is productivity, which went from a marginal 0.4 per cent gain in Q2 to flat in Q3.


Source: Business Times 15 Dec 07

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