SINGAPORE — The Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) claimed in its latest report on Thursday, June 15, 2023, that the Singaporean labour market has continued to grow for the sixth consecutive quarter in the first quarter of 2023.
According to MOM, this growth resulted in a total employment increase of 33,000 jobs, pushing total employment to 3.8% above its pre-pandemic level.
MOM’s report shows a rise in resident employment by 2,800 and non-resident employment by 30,200.
Interpreting these statistics, it appears that foreigners accounted for a substantial 91.5% of the total employment growth, which is an increase from last year’s figure of 88.5%. As a result, only a scant 8.5% of the employment growth benefited residents, which includes Permanent Residents (PRs). It raises the question, out of this small percentage, what proportion actually went to Singaporean citizens?
MOM states that the growth was slower compared to the previous quarter of 2022. Notably, MOM indicates that non-resident employment exceeded its pre-pandemic level for the first time by March 2023, standing at 1.7% above the level before the pandemic hit.
Despite this growth, MOM reports signs of cooling of the labour demand. The rate of employment growth, according to the ministry, has slowed compared to the previous quarter of 2022.
The MOM report also reveals a rise in retrenchments to 3,820 in 1Q 2023, up from 2,990 in 4Q 2022. However, it notes that 71.7% of retrenched residents were able to secure new jobs within six months after being retrenched.
MOM attributes the increase in retrenchments primarily to the Electronics Manufacturing, Information & Communications, and Financial Services sectors. According to the ministry, reorganisation or restructuring was the main cause of these retrenchments, while recession or downturn contributed to 19.4% of the cases.
The ministry also reports that unemployment rates have remained low, with overall unemployment at 1.8%, resident unemployment at 2.6%, and citizen unemployment at 2.7%.
According to MOM, despite declining for the fourth consecutive quarter, job vacancies remained high at 99,600 in March 2023. The ministry also claims the ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons remained high at 2.28, even though it has decreased slightly since December 2022.
In response to these developments, MOM encourages employers and workers to adapt by using government programmes and urging employers to refer to the Jobs Transformation Maps (JTMs) to help prepare their businesses and workers for future trends and skills.
MOM also advises employers to take advantage of the Workforce Singapore’s (WSG) Career Conversion Programmes to hire and retrain mid-career workers. Moreover, MOM recommends that jobseekers seeking career matching services should approach WSG and NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute.
According to MOM, these strategies demonstrate the adaptability and resilience of Singapore’s labour market in the face of a global economic slowdown and an increasingly uncertain business environment.