SINGAPORE: In its latest report, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) revealed a potentially concerning trend in the labour market for the second quarter of 2023. The report showed that total employment continued to grow for the seventh consecutive quarter, but all the growth in the second quarter was attributed to non-residents. This raises questions about the prospects for resident workers in the nation.
According to the Advance Release by MOM, total employment (excluding Migrant Domestic Workers) increased by 23,700 in Q2 2023. However, resident employment saw a slight contraction, largely in the Food & Beverage Services (F&B) and Retail Trade sectors.
Non-residents, on the other hand, found substantial employment growth, primarily in the construction sector which is seeing sustained demand for private and public projects such as housing.
Compared to the first quarter of 2023, where foreigners made up 91.5% of the total employment growth, the second quarter of 2023 saw 100% of the job growth going to non-residents. The Ministry, however, noted that these roles typically were lower-paying positions.
The unemployment rates remained unchanged, standing at an overall 1.9%, with resident and citizen unemployment rates at 2.7% and 2.8%, respectively.
Despite the shift in employment growth, the number of retrenchments dropped in Q2 2023, declining from 3,820 in the first quarter to 3,200, resembling pre-pandemic, non-recessionary ranges.
Since resident numbers include Permanent Residents (PRs), it raises the question: Are Singaporean citizens more affected by the latest development?
The MOM report concludes that the labour market conditions could soften in the coming quarters, mirroring the moderation in economic growth as a result of global economic headwinds. Businesses appear to be adopting a more cautious approach towards hiring and wage increases.
In response, MOM encourages employers and workers to use government programs to adapt to the changing environment.
The government offers a variety of initiatives such as the Career Conversion Programmes and the SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme to help jobseekers reskill and find new job roles.
Despite this, the report raises concerns about the implications for resident workers, if current trends continue. More detailed analysis will be available in the comprehensive Labour Market Report Second Quarter 2023, set to be released in mid-September.