July 29, 2020 / 3:01 AM / 6 days ago

Singapore's jobless rate jumps in second quarter, nearing financial crisis peak

FILE PHOTO: People walk at the central business district, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Singapore July 14, 2020. REUTERS/Edgar Su

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore’s jobless rate rose sharply in the second quarter to a new decade-high of 2.9%, provisional data showed on Wednesday, as the COVID-19 pandemic saw employment shrink in the services and construction sector.

The overall unemployment rate climbed from 2.4% in the first quarter, moving within sight of a 3.4% peak hit during the global financial crisis of 2009 SGUNRP=ECI.

Retrenchments were much higher between April and June at 6,700, compared to 3,220 in the previous quarter.

“Softness in the labour market is likely to persist with continued weakness in hiring and pressure on companies to retrench,” the manpower ministry said.

Singapore has reported over 50,000 COVID-19 cases, the vast majority in migrant worker dormitories which has hammered a construction industry reliant on cheap labour.

Visitors have been banned, leading to large-scale layoffs in the tourism sector, and a lockdown in the city-state for much of the second quarter dented retail and restaurant businesses.

Reporting by John Geddie; Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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