Members of public say MOM’s statement that retrenchment in Singapore is at 7-year low last year is fake

Based on a data released by the Manpower Ministry (MOM), the overall employment growth in 2018 was the highest since 2014, with retrenchments down to the lowest level since 2011.

Reported in an article published by SG SME, a publication under Singapore Press Holding, it is stated that the number of people with jobs in Singapore has shot up to 38,300.

The report also said that more locals – both Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs) – were employed, and the annual average unemployment rate and resident long-term unemployment rate dropped slightly, compared to 2017.

Which the report says is possible due to the good performance that the country received in the first nine months of the year.

But, out of the 38,300 increased employment last year, Singaporeans and PRs accounted for 27,400, more than double then 10,900 foreigners, excluding maids.

Besides that, for the entire 2018, a total of 10,730 employees were laid off – down from 14,720 in 2017 and 19,170 in 2016. Out of the 10,730 workers that were let go off last year, 7,070 were Singaporeans and PRs.

Although fewer locals were retrenched, but a high amount of them were professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), which made up three-quarters (75.8 per cent) of local retrenchment last year, said the report. This is an increase from 72 per cent in 2017.

According to the ministry, this was because PMET’s share in the workforce has risen and retrenchments were occurring mainly in higher-skilled industries.

As for growth in the foreign workforce, it was mostly from S Pass holders and there were 11,000 more of them employed here last year. Nonetheless, the Employment Pass (EP) holders in the country fell by 6,400 as a result of the raising of qualifying salary in January 2017. The minimum qualifying salary for EP is S$3,600.

The report also confirmed the preliminary income growth estimates, which showed that over the last five years, real median income growth for Singaporeans in full-time work was an average of 3.6 per cent per year from 2013 to 2018, an increase from 1.7 per cent per year in the previous five years. This includes employer contributions to the Central Provident Fund.

Looking at quarterly basis, the report found out that the percentage of locals who found work within six months of being retrenched improved in the fourth quarter of last year to 64 per cent, up from 62 per cent who found work in the third quarter.

In the future, the ministry said that hiring outlook seems positive for the construction sector, which saw an up in contracts awarded since the second half of 2017, but the manufacturing sector outlook stays modest.

The MOM also added that the cut in foreign worker quota for the services sector for next year, as announced in this year’s Budget statement, “will help to keep the labour market tight to sustain the impetus for restructuring, and support good employment outcomes for Singaporeans”.

The Straits Times shared this article by SG SME in its Facebook page and netizens quickly rubbished the claims by the report and said that it was fake news.

Many of them said that they’re indeed jobless, and with the increase of Foreign Talents (FTs) who is taking over PMETs jobs, which raise questions as whether retrenchment is low because locals are either already unemployed or forced to do some other jobs. Note that the retrenchment figures are only obtained from companies with more than twenty employees.


Others are saying that the retrenchment rate is low because they are not even employed in the first place. They’re again emphasising the fact that since employment rate is low, it will obviously mean that retrenchment rate is low as well.

However, Facebook user Vex Tan said that foreign workers are needed since Singapore has a small population and the country needs a bigger labour force.  Without it, “wages will be artificially high and productivity will suffer”, and this will impact businesses in Singapore as it will not be able to compete for foreign investment as well as to sell its products and services.

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