Singapore lost 23,384 jobs
in 1998, its first fall in net employment since its last
recession in 1985-86, the Ministry of Manpower said on Saturday.
The number of workers laid off hit a record high of 29,086
last year, compared with the 19,529 retrenched in 1985, it said.
"The labor market deteriorated in 1998 as a result of the
economic downturn," the ministry said in a statement.
Permanent Secretary for Manpower Tan Chin Nam told a news
conference that demand for labor would remain weak, despite
forecasts for a possible recovery in the second half of 1999.
Tan declined to forecast net employment for this year,
saying only: "It will be in line with this year's GDP growth."
Singapore's economy grew 1.5 percent in 1998. The government
sees growth of minus one percent to plus one percent in 1999.
"Generally the pace of recovery in the job market is
expected to lag behind the economy as employers are likely to be
cautious in recruiting in the early stages of recovery. Economic
prospects remain very uncertain," the ministry statement said.
Singapore's jobless rate rose to 3.2 percent in 1998 from
around two percent in the previous nine years, official data