The last quarter of 2022 saw retrenchment numbers climb to 3,000, nearly doubling from the previous three quarters (between 800 and 1,300).
According to the Labour Market Advance Release 2022 by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on 31 January 2023, the increase was mainly due to higher retrenchments seen in the Electronics Manufacturing, Information Technology and Wholesale Trade Services sectors.
Business reorganisation or restructuring was the top reason for retrenchments in 4Q 2022.
Retrenchments in other sectors, however, remained stable.
Even though retrenchments rose in 4Q 2022, total employment continued to expand for the fifth consecutive quarter, and unemployment remained low.
In its release, MOM said that total employment – excluding Migrant Domestic Workers (MDW) – expanded by some 47,400 in the last quarter, largely contributed by the growth of non-resident employment.
The increase in non-resident employment was concentrated in the Construction sector.
By December 2022, the overall unemployment rate was at 2 per cent, with resident and citizen unemployment rates recorded at 2.8 per cent and 3 per cent, respectively.
The year’s average unemployment rate was comparable to pre-pandemic unemployment levels and was also better than the preceeding year.
Overall, resident and citizen unemployment for 2022 averaged at 2.1, 2.9 and 3.0 per cent respectively, while 2021 averaged at 2.7, 3.5 and 3.7 per cent.
Despite the strong growth seen last year, MOM said that the projected slowdown in economic growth this year would likely hinder the momentum of labour market improvements.
“The uncertain global economic environment, higher inflation, as well as geopolitical tensions will weigh on the labour market going forward,” wrote the ministry.
The Government continues to urge employers and workers to make full use of Government programmes to accelerate and adopt transformation initiatives to build a more competitive and resilient workforce.
Employers can refer to the Jobs Transformation Maps (JTM) to prepare their businesses and workers for the future; tap on the Support for Job Redesign under Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG-JR) to make jobs more attractive to jobseekers; and adopt a Flexible Wage System so that they are in a better position to deal with any economic headwind.