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Singapore sees biggest half-year decrease in total employment

The country’s total employment for the second quarter of the year contracted by 129,100

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Singapore—The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) announced on Monday (Sept 14) that the reduction in employment for the first half of 2020 is the largest on record for Singapore.

The country’s total employment for the second quarter of the year contracted by 129,100, a figure that includes Foreign Domestic Workers (FDW). Without FDWs, the figure stands at 121,800. “This quarterly decline was the largest on record, and much sharper than previous downturns, bringing the total employment decline since the start of 2020 to 147,500.”

Among the job losses, foreign employment decreased by 66,400 (5.7 percent) while local employment declined by 62,700 (2.7 percent), said the MTI, according to the Labour Market Report Second Quarter 2020, Manpower Research & Statistics Department.

The report says, “Manufacturing, Construction, and Services registered sharper employment cuts in 2Q 2020. Within Services, employment contractions were sharpest among industries most affected by the Circuit Breaker and safe distancing measures, such as food & beverage services, retail trade, arts, entertainment & recreation, and education. Construction also saw a steep decline in employment as projects were placed on hold. The decline in Manufacturing was more modest in comparison.”

MTI added, “Foreign cutbacks were also more widespread across sectors.”

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For the first half of the year, cuts in foreign employment were mostly among holders of Work Permit and Other Work Passes (51,100). There were 11,200 job cuts among S Pass holders, and 4,100 job cuts among Employment Pass holders.

MTI also said that the decline in jobs for Work Pass holders was 32,900, excluding the sectors of Construction, Marine Shipyard and Process.

And while the seasonally adjusted unemployment overall rates went up in the second quarter of this year (2.8 percent) from the first quarter (2.4 percent), MTI said these figures are lower than recessionary peaks in the past.

As for retrenchments, they have seen a steep rise to 11,350 for the first half of the year. “This was higher than during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) period in the 1H 2003 of 10,120 but lower than other past recessionary peaks,” said MTI.

During the Circuit Breaker, 81,720 employees were placed on temporary layoffs or shorter work weeks due to the temporary halt in work in many areas. According to MTI, “This likely reduced the number of retrenchments.”

The Ministry also outlined a number of areas of strength in the country’s economy, such as the likely expansion of Electronics and Precision Engineering clusters, due to the demand all over the world for semiconductors and semiconductor equipment.

Additionally, the Biomedical Manufacturing cluster expects to see an increase this year, due to the production of pharmaceutical and biological products.

Moreover, the demand for IT and digital solutions is also good news for the Information & Communications sector. —/TISG

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