Singapore will likely see a smaller number of retrenchments due to the Government’s “drive to create jobs and traineeships for graduates”, said Maybank Kim Eng senior economist Chua Hak Bin.
Responding to TOC’s query on Friday (12 June), Dr Chua said: “We are now forecasting lower job losses of between 100,000 to 150,000.”
“The fourth fiscal package announced wage subsidies to incentive firms to hire and create training programs,” he told TOC, in reference to the Fortitude Budget, part of which includes a S$2 billion SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package.
The package aims to create “close to 100,000 opportunities in three areas”, namely 40,000 jobs in both the public and private sectors, 25,000 traineeships and 30,000 skills training, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.
“This will support the immediate needs of our workers, and raise the skills of our people for future jobs,” he told Parliament during the debate on the Fortitude Budget, which was passed in Parliament on 5 June.
Previously in April, Dr Chua and fellow Maybank Kim Eng economist Lee Ju Ye estimated that the number of retrenchments in Singapore this year could range between 150,000 and 200,000 despite the Government’s earlier fiscal stimulus packages — 50,000 more than the bank’s current prediction.
“This will be the highest (number of) retrenchments in Singapore’s history since independence, far worse than during the global financial crisis, and the Asian financial crisis,” they told TODAY.
The global financial crisis in 2008-2009 saw approximately 40,000 retrenchments, while the Asian financial crisis in 1997 involved around 30,000 layoffs.
Earlier in March, Dr Chua estimated that around 40,000 to 50,000 will be laid off this year, with the bulk of the workers being foreigners.
In response to TOC’s query on Friday, Dr Chua predicted that Singapore’s unemployment rate will likely rise to about 4 per cent to 4.5 per cent by the end of this year.
According to the Ministry of Manpower, Singapore’s overall unemployment rate rose over Q1 in March from 2.3 to 2.4 per cent.
The citizen unemployment rate rose from 3.3 to 3.5 per cent. Among residents, the rate went up from 3.2 to 3.3 per cent.