SINGAPORE: The latest labour market advance release, published by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) last week, shows that retrenchments have doubled since 2022, with the third quarter of 2023 experiencing the highest quarterly retrenchment rate since the COVID-19 pandemic period in 2020.

During the third quarter of this year, 4,100 individuals were retrenched, surpassing the peak seen in the fourth quarter of 2020 amid the pandemic. This surge brings the total retrenchment figures for 2023 to 11,120, a figure nearly twice the 6,440 recorded in the entirety of 2022.

Amid these unsettling statistics, MOM provided some contrasting insights. Total employment in the country, excluding migrant domestic workers, grew 24,000 during the third quarter.

Citizen unemployment also saw an uptick, rising to 3 per cent, while overall unemployment remained at 2 per cent. Resident unemployment registered at 2.8 per cent, reflecting the more significant impact on the local population.

MOM attributed the bulk of this surge in unemployment to the wholesale trade sector, citing its weaker external outlook. “Business restructuring” remained the predominant reason for retrenchments in the third quarter, underscoring the ongoing challenges businesses face in adapting to a rapidly changing economic landscape.

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The Ministry emphasized that while retrenchments and unemployment have risen, the unemployment rates have remained relatively low. This suggests that many retrenched workers have secured new employment relatively quickly.