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Singapore’s unemployment rate rose to its highest since 2009 in the three months to March on a fall in the number of work permit holders, according to preliminary data from the Ministry of Manpower.

The overall unemployment rate in the city state including foreigners rose to 2.3 per cent in the first quarter from 2.2 per cent in the three months to December. The unemployment rate was last at 2.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2009. This was above a median estimate of 2.2 per cent compiled by Bloomberg.

The unemployment rate for Singapore residents and citizens held at 3.2 per and 3.5 per cent respectively in the first quarter.

Singapore shed 8,500 jobs in the three months to March against a seasonal high in the fourth quarter when 2,300 jobs were added as employment in manufacturing and construction fell owing to a decrease in the number of work permit holders, MOM said. In the first quarter of 2016 the country added 13,000 jobs.

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