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Total employment growth slows in second quarter 2023; Employers to invest in business transformation, urges Government

This is the third consecutive quarter in which total employment growth has dipped.

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By Ian Tan Hanhonn 27 Jul 2023
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The Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) Labour Market Advance Release for the second quarter of 2023 showed total employment continuing its downward growth trend, with hirings mainly taking place in sectors which employ non-residents.


MOM issued the advance release on 27 July 2023.


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Source: MOM


Total employment, excluding migrant domestic workers, continued to expand for the seventh consecutive quarter, but this growth has been downward since 3Q 2022.


Resident employment tightened slightly in the year's second quarter, with the contraction occurring mainly in the food and beverage services and retail trade.


MOM expects the labour market situation to soften further in the coming quarters due to the moderation of Singapore’s economic growth, given global economic headwinds. Its report noted that firms appear to be adopting a more cautious stance towards hiring and wage increases.


The proportion of firms which signalled an intention to hire over the next three months fell from 64.8 to 58.2 per cent. Meanwhile, the number of firms intending to raise wages dipped from 38.2 to 28 per cent.


MOM wrote: “To remain competitive and resilient amidst these global developments, we encourage employers and workers to be proactive in making full use of Government programmes to adapt to the changing environment.


“We encourage employers to invest in business transformation in order to ensure that their businesses continue to be competitive and their workers productive. We remain committed to supporting our workers to find good jobs despite the economic uncertainty ahead.”


Growth areas


Employment growth in the second quarter of 2023 was mainly seen in the construction sector, attributed to the sustained demand for private and public sector projects such as housing.


Most of the non-resident hires in the construction sector were Work Permit Holders.


Meanwhile, MOM said that sectors such as community, social & personal services, financial services and professional services saw continued growth in resident employment but noted that growth in these sectors had slowed due to global economic headwinds.


Unemployment and retrenchments


By June 2023, unemployment rates had increased slightly compared to March 2023.


Overall, resident and citizen unemployment increased by 0.1 per cent compared to the previous quarter, ending at 1.9, 2.7 and 2.8, respectively.


Retrenchments declined from 3,820 in this year’s first quarter to 3,200 in the second quarter after rising over the previous three quarters.


It was noted that business reorganisation or restructuring was the top reason for retrenchments in 2Q 2023.


IT Services and Wholesale Trade was the key contributor to retrenchments in 2Q 2023.


Responding to the report on Facebook, NTUC Assistant Secretary-General said: “There does not seem to be any positive signs across the globe to suggest a stronger global economic climate in the latter half of 2023.


“As such, many employers are treading cautiously. In the near term, employment growth could ease and be uneven across sectors, with tourism-related sectors seeing improvement while labour demand dampens in outward-oriented sectors.”