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Singapore

Singapore's resident employment grew in Q3, trimming fall in total employment

The recovery in the labour market remains uneven across sectors.

SINGAPORE: Total employment declined far less in the third quarter of 2021, mainly because resident employment “increased strongly”, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in its latest labour market report.

Resident employment went up by 19,100 while non-resident employment fell by 21,500, at a pace similar to the second quarter. In total, employment decreased by 2,400, compared to the 16,300 decline in the previous quarter.

Ongoing border restrictions contributed to the continued contraction of non-resident employment across most industries, said MOM.

The recovery in the labour market remains uneven, with resident employment growth in consumer and tourism-related sectors trailing behind. These include sectors like food & beverage services, arts, entertainment & recreation, accommodation and retail trade.

Industries that hired more included information & communications, professional services and financial services, as well as administrative & support services and health & social services. 

Despite the continued improvement, the resident long-term unemployment rate remains above the pre-COVID level, said MOM.

The seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rate declined further from August to September by 0.1 percentage point to 2.6 per cent. The annual average unemployment rate in 2019 was 2.3 per cent.

Resident unemployment rate now stands at 3.5 per cent, while the citizen unemployment rate is 3.7 per cent. The resident long-term unemployment rate increased to 1.2 per cent in September 2021, from 0.9 per cent in June.

AIR TRANSPORT RECOVERING

There were fewer employees who were placed on short work week or temporary layoff as well, at 4,060 compared to 5,580 in the previous quarter. But the number remains above pre-pandemic levels.

"Of note is the significant decrease in the number of employees from the air transport and the supporting services segment that were on short work week or temporary layoffs, and we see this as a positive development given the travel restrictions that the sector has laboured under for much of the year," said Mr Aubeck Kam, permanent secretary for MOM.

"We are therefore expecting a gradual decline in the number of workers who are on on shorter work weeks or temporary layoffs."

The number of retrenchments fell in the third quarter to 1,900, from 2,340 in the second quarter. This means a decline in the incidence of retrenchment, to 1.1 retrenched per 1,000 employees from 1.3 per 1,000.

The six-month re-entry rate among retrenched residents was 66 per cent, up from 64 per cent. This is the same as the rate seen in the first quarter of the year.

The number of job vacancies increased further from 92,100 in June 2021 to 98,700 in September 2021, though the pace of increase has slowed. 

JOB VACANCIES HIGH

With the decline in jobseekers, the ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons trended higher, with 209 job vacancies for every 100 people unemployed in September, up from 163 in June. The job vacancy to unemployed ratio was last above two in 1997, said MOM.

Mr Kam attributed this to two factors: Sustained demand for workers in some growth sectors, and a substantial decrease in the number of work permit holders.

There was demand in growth sectors such as professional services, financial services, information & communications, and health & social services, where resident employment has increased in tandem.

Occupations in-demand include software, web & multimedia developers, systems analysts, commercial & marketing sales executives, accountants and nurses.

"In these sectors, we have seen rested employment growing strongly," he said.

However, with border restrictions still curtailing the inflow of foreign labour, sectors which have seen substantial decreases in work permit holders, namely manufacturing, construction, food & beverage services, and administrative & support services, accounted for 38 per cent of all job vacancies. 

The number of job vacancies, and the ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons, is expected to remain high until border restrictions are lifted.

RECOVERY EXPECTED TO CONTINUE INTO 2022

Alongside the projected economic growth, the labour market is expected to continue on its recovery trajectory for the rest of 2021 and into next year, but unevenly across sectors.

MOM expects the job market to become tighter as border restrictions continue to constrain the inflow of workers from overseas.

“The Government and our tripartite partners will continue to support employers to accelerate the pace of transformation, become more manpower-lean and strengthen their local workforce,” the ministry said.

Source: CNA/hm(rw)

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