In the three months to March, the jobless rate was unchanged from the previous quarter for residents (3.2 percent) and citizens (3.5 percent).
Total employment fell by 6,800, following an increase of 2,300 in the fourth quarter and marking the highest quarterly contraction since the June quarter 2009. The decline occured in manufacturing (-4,300) and construction (-12,500), mainly due to a decrease in Work Permit Holders. In contrast, services sector saw employment rose by 9,900.
Some 4,000 workers were laid off, lower than 5,440 workers in the December quarter and the same period the prior year (4,710). Redundancies declined in manufacturing (890 from 1,990 in the third quarter and marking the lowest figure since the second quarter of 2015 (870) and services (2,440 from 2,840). In contrast, construction reported more redundancies (660 from 580). Services (61 percent) formed the bulk of all layoffs, mainly in wholesale trade (13 percent), financial services (12 percent), and professional services (12 percent).
The rate of re-entry among residents made redundant was 64.4 percent, compared to 64.7 in the previous quarter.
The number of job vacancies (seasonally adjusted) among private sector establishments with at least 25 employees and the public sector declined slightly in March 2017. However, vacancies among small private sector establishments employing less than 25 employees went up. That brought total vacancies for the whole economy rose (45,300 from 44,500 in Q3. As a result, the seasonally adjusted ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons improved slightly, after seven straight quarters of decline.
The seasonally adjusted recruitment rate declined to 2.1 percent in the first quarter 2017 following an uptick in the prior three months. The recruitment rate has been on a general downtrend since the third quarter 2014. Meanwhile, resignation rate held steady at 1.8 percent since the beginning of 2016.