SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced today (15 Mar) that retrenchments more than doubled in the fourth quarter of 2022, compared to the third quarter, going from 1,300 to 2,990 retrenchments.
This comes after the number of retrenchments climbed from 830 retrenchments in Q2 to 1,300 in Q3. Job vacancies have also continued to decline for the third consecutive quarter in December 2022
Despite this, the ministry has said that the total number of retrenchments in 2022 (6,440) remained low compared to pre-pandemic years, in its latest labour market report. It added that the percentage of retrenched residents who found employment six months after they were retrenched increased to 73.1 per cent in Q4 2022, the highest since 2015.
MOM said that the labour market has “improved significantly” in 2022 compared to 2021 as total employment grew by an unprecedented 227,8001, reaching 2.9% above its pre-pandemic level.
Total employment registered a record-high increase of 227,800 in 2022, bringing total employment to 2.9% above the pre-pandemic 2019 level. Resident employment continued its steady growth, increasing by 26,300 in 2022. The increase was mostly in outward-oriented sectors such as Financial Services and Information & Communications. By December 2022, the resident employment level has surpassed 2019’s level by 4.8%.
Non-resident employment contributed to the bulk of the increase in total employment (201,600), although it has yet to reach its pre-pandemic level (99.2% compared to 2019). This increase was primarily due to the hiring of Work Permit Holders (WP+) in sectors such as Construction and Manufacturing as employers backfilled positions following the significant relaxation of border controls in April 2022.
Annual average unemployment rates improved further in 2022 compared to 2021 (overall: from 2.7% to 2.1%, resident: from 3.5% to 2.9%, citizen: from 3.7% to 3.0%) and are below pre-pandemic levels. The resident long-term unemployment rate improved to 0.6%, below the pre-pandemic average of 0.7%.
Despite dipping for the third consecutive quarter, MOM said that job vacancies “remained elevated.” A significant proportion of vacancies were in sectors such as Construction and Manufacturing, which are sectors that typically rely more on foreign workers.
But with the number of unemployed persons also declining, the ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons increased to 2.33 in December 2022.
Given uncertainties in the global economy and the lower GDP growth forecast of 0.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent that the Government maintained for 2023, MOM said that labour demand may see slower growth in the future. It added: “Employment growth is likely to ease from 2022’s increase and be uneven across sectors.”
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