November 30, 2023

New Malaysia Times

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Singapore’s total employment sees sharpest quarterly contraction


SINGAPORE, June 15 — Singapore’s total employment, excluding foreign domestic workers (FDW), fell by 25,600 in the first quarter (1Q) of 2020, the sharpest quarterly contraction on record due to a significant fall in foreign employment.

The local employment, meanwhile, contracted slightly, as sharper than expected declines in trade and tourism-related sectors outweighed increases in the Financial & Insurance Services, Public Administration & Education and Professional Services.


These findings were expounded in the “Labour Market Report, First Quarter 2020” released by the Manpower Research and Statistics Department of the Ministry of Manpower today.

However, the report said labor market conditions are likely to worsen in the upcoming quarter, given the sharp fall in hiring demand globally, as well as in Singapore due to circuit breaker measures.

“This is reflected in the decline in the ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons,” said the report.

It noted that coupled with a rise in unemployed persons, the seasonally-adjusted ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons fell to a decade low of 0.71 in March 2020 but was still above the troughs during SARS and the Global Financial Crisis.

According to the report, the overall unemployment rates rose to 2.4 percent from 2.3 percent but remained lower than the previous highs during SARS and the Global Financial Crisis.

On retrenchments, the report said that it was 3,220, significantly lower than the peak during the Global Financial Crisis of 12,760 in 1Q 2009.

However, layoffs rose from 4Q 2019 of 2,670, largely due to sectoral downturn or poor business mostly in the Retail Trade, Accommodation and Food & Beverage Services.

In 1Q 2020, the report said 4,190 employees were placed on a short work-week or temporary layoff, a fivefold increase compared to the previous quarter of 840, but still below the high registered during the Global Financial Crisis of 26,530.

The seasonally-adjusted number of job vacancies declined to 46,300, the lowest since September 2010 (44,900) with most notable in the Food & Beverage Services and Arts, Entertainment & Recreation sector.

On the other hand, vacancies rose slightly in sectors such as the Electronics Manufacturing, Information & Communications, Health & Social Services, and Wholesale Trade, and also remained firm in other sectors such as the Public Administration & Education and Financial Services.

The report said the government has put in place significant measures under the Unity, Resilience, Solidarity and Fortitude Budgets to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the labor market.

These measures may have helped to cushion the overall impact, especially on local workers, as unemployment rates and retrenchments remain lower than in previous downturns, it said.