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Global crisis hits jobs in Singapore

 
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November 2, 2008

Global crisis hits jobs in Singapore
Employment growth in Singapore slowed in the third quarter and manufacturers turned pessimistic as the global financial crisis drags on an economy already in recession, reported Reuters.

Singapore added 57,800 jobs in the third quarter, down from 71,400 created in the April-June period, although the unemployment rate was steady at a seasonally adjusted 2.2 percent, preliminary manpower ministry data showed on Friday.

A separate government survey showed a net weighted 18 percent of manufacturers expect business conditions to deteriorate in the next six months ending March 2009, Singapore's Economic Development Board said.

This compares with the Board's previous survey in July when a net weighted 1 percent of manufacturers predicted an improvement in their business.

Still, analysts predicted tough times ahead.

"It's still early days yet. The worse of the financial crisis only began at the tail end of the third quarter," said Song Seng Wun, an economist at CIMB.

"While (the jobless rate) is encouraging, the outlook is far less clear and people are going to have difficulties finding jobs," he said, adding the unemployment rate was expected to rise to 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter.

Singapore is heavily dependent on trade, making the Southeast Asian country sensitive to the health of the global economy.

In a sign the rout in financial markets has spread into the real economy, Singapore fell into its first recession in six years in the third quarter as the crisis cut demand for exports and factory output.

Friday's survey of manufacturers showed makers in the chemicals, precision engineering, electronics and biomedical sectors have turned pessimistic.

However, a net weighted 20 percent of biomedical firms expect output to rise in the fourth quarter compared to the previous quarter as factories produce a different batch of drugs.

"The impact of de-leveraging and credit crunch will be increasingly evident in the real economy," said Wee Ee Cheong, chief executive of Singapore's second-largest bank United Overseas Bank , after posting a quarterly profit drop.

Singapore's contract chip maker Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing said on Friday it was cutting back on the amount of overtime work to match the fall in its factory usage.

Recruitment firm Robert Walters said on Thursday job advertisements in Asia's financial centres Singapore and Hong Kong fell in the third quarter as the financial crisis spurred companies to cut costs.

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