In its labour market report for the first quarter, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said today (15 Jun) that the number of people working, excluding maids, fell by 25,600 in the three months to Mar 31 this year – the biggest quarterly contraction on record. It’s much worse than the estimated drop of 19,900 presented in the preliminary data earlier.
Much of the decline was due to significant cutbacks in the number of foreign workers but local employment also dropped slightly due to a fall in headcounts in trade and tourism-related industries, added MOM.
It did not, however, provide any breakdown of the exact numbers of locals and foreigners employed.
Retrenchments have also increased over the quarter but total unemployment is low, at 2.4 per cent. For citizens, MOM’s data shows unemployment rates rose to 3.5 per cent in first quarter, from 3.3 per cent in December, after accounting for seasonal variations.
Around 3,220 workers were laid off in the first quarter compared with the 2,670 in the last quarter of 2019.
In 1Q, there were only seven job openings for every 10 jobseekers.
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo acknowledged that things will get worse for Singapore. “The full effects of Covid-19 certainly have not been felt in the first quarter,” she said.
“We do not know exactly how the second quarter will turn out but it is best for us to get ready and be prepared for more job losses and we have to try our very best to open up more pathway for job seekers.”
She also noted that Government measures like the Jobs Support Scheme have helped to prevent the unemployment rate or retrenchments to spike sharply.
“Instead of retrenchments we saw a five-fold increase in the number of employees that were placed on shorter work weeks or temporary lay-offs … (which) suggests measures that are supported by tripartite partners (are working). Although they involve some sacrifices on the part of the workers, they are also helping to preserve jobs,” she said.
More Singaporeans signing up to deliver food
Meanwhile, it has been reported that more Singaporeans are signing up to become food deliverers.
For example, Deliveroo saw an 80 per cent increase in rider applications and has added over 1,000 riders to the fleet in April.
The company expects to hire an additional 2,000 drivers by the end of the second quarter “to meet the growing demand for food delivery” during the COVID-19 pandemic, the spokesperson added.
Deliveroo had 7,000 riders in its fleet as of Apr 13. About 75 per cent of these riders are on motorcycles, 22 per cent are on bicycles and 3 per cent are walkers or on e-bicycles.
“We are glad to be creating new jobs for Singaporeans who may be looking for flexible work to supplement their income,” said Deliveroo’s spokesperson.