Jan. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Singapore’s unemployment rate held near a three-year low last quarter after companies in the services and construction industries added jobs in 2011.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 2 percent in the three months through December, the Ministry of Manpower said in a statement today, citing preliminary data. That compares with the 2.1 percent median estimate of nine economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. The economy added 36,300 jobs last quarter, compared with 31,900 reported earlier for the third quarter.
The government has cut taxes in recent years to encourage companies to set up operations or expand in the Southeast Asian nation as it faces competition from neighbors including Indonesia and Malaysia in attracting investment. Singapore’s economy shrank for the second time in three quarters in the three months ended December as manufacturing eased, increasing pressure on policy makers to spur growth.
“Singapore is one of the most vulnerable economies in Asia to the deterioration in world trade,” Sukhy Ubhi, an economist at Capital Economics Ltd. in London, said before the report. “We expect global trade and growth to continue to disappoint, which suggests that the unemployment rate will rise further in coming quarters.”
The services industry added 95,100 jobs last year, while manufacturing companies increased payrolls by 2,900, the report showed. Construction employment rose 22,200. The jobless rate averaged 2 percent in 2011, a 14-year low.
Singapore said it aims to attract as much as S$15 billion ($11.9 billion) of investments in manufacturing and services this year to boost economic growth and spur employment. The S$13.7 billion of projects that were committed in 2011 will create about 20,300 skilled jobs, while the investment that comes in this year should help generate 18,000 to 21,000 jobs, the Economic Development Board said Jan. 17.
--Editors: Rina Chandran, Stephanie Phang
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