Singapore’s Jobless Rate Falls as Companies Increase Payrolls

Singapore’s unemployment rate unexpectedly fell last quarter after companies in the services and construction industries increased hiring.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate eased to 2 percent in the three months through September from 2.1 percent the previous quarter, the Ministry of Manpower said in a statement today. That’s better than the median estimate of eight economists surveyed by Bloomberg News for a rate of 2.3 percent. The economy added an estimated 32,300 jobs last quarter, compared with 24,800 in the previous period.

Singapore, ranked by the World Bank as the easiest place to do business, has cut taxes in recent years to encourage investment and companies have hired hundreds of thousands of foreigners to fill positions. Tourists are visiting the city in record numbers, drawn by Genting Singapore Plc and Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s casino resorts, which include shopping malls, hotels and restaurants.

“The Singapore economy is still holding up well and there is some clarity in the euro zone and the U.S.,” Irvin Seah, an economist at DBS Group Holdings Ltd. in Singapore, said before the report. “We expect job creation to moderate in the next few quarters but the services sector should do fairly well especially the tourism-related industry. The manufacturing sector and the electronics industry may face some strains.”

The services industry added 21,900 jobs last quarter, while manufacturing companies increased payrolls by 3,500, the report showed, citing preliminary data. Construction employment rose 6,600 in the three months through September.

The government has tightened curbs on foreign labor after a backlash on the influx of workers from overseas led to record opposition gains in May general elections. More than a third of Singapore’s 5.2 million population is made up of foreigners and permanent residents.