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Singapore employment picks up in first quarter of 2022 as construction workers return

Retrenchments fell to a record low amid a tight labour market, says the Ministry of Manpower.

Singapore employment picks up in first quarter of 2022 as construction workers return

A migrant worker looks on in a construction site in Singapore on Aug 20, 2020. (AFP/Roslan RAHMAN)

SINGAPORE: Total employment in Singapore rose in the first quarter of 2022 on the back of an increase in non-resident workers - mainly work permit holders in the construction sector amid the reopening of borders.

Resident unemployment, which is comparable to the situation pre-pandemic, held steady, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), adding that retrenchments fell to a record low.

According to MOM's preliminary labour market report released on Thursday (Apr 28), total employment in the first quarter - excluding migrant domestic workers – expanded by 41,100.

This was slightly lower than the figure of 47,900 in the previous quarter but it “remains a robust pace of growth”, said the ministry.

“With the progressive lifting of border restrictions, the increase in non-resident employment was significantly greater than that of resident employment, as employers replenished their non-resident workforce,” it added.

For resident employment, trends were mixed among sectors.

The information and communication, as well as financial services sectors, continued to see steady resident employment growth.

However resident employment fell in sectors such as food and beverage services, retail trade and accommodation.

“These sectors typically experience employment declines following seasonal hiring for the year-end festive period in the fourth quarter,” MOM noted.

UNEMPLOYMENT, RETRENCHMENTS

The unemployment situation “held steady” in March after returning to pre-pandemic levels in February, said the ministry.

Resident and citizen unemployment rates in March remained unchanged from the previous month’s – at 3 per cent and 3.2 per cent respectively.

The overall unemployment rate inched up slightly to 2.2 per cent from 2.1 per cent, which is “comparable to pre-COVID rates”, said MOM.

Retrenchments also fell to a record low of 1,300, or 0.6 retrenched per 1,000 employees, amid a tight labour market.

According to MOM, employers attributed most of the retrenchments to “reorganisation” or “restructuring”.

The ministry said it expects non-resident employment to continue to recover in the coming months, given the “significant relaxation of border measures” from April.

“This will alleviate some of the tightness in the labour market,” it added. “As economic recovery continues to drive demand for workers, we expect the resident unemployment rate to stay low, and resident employment to continue to grow modestly.”

It cautioned, however, that downside risks to economic growth have increased, noting the Russia-Ukraine conflict, protracted global supply disruptions, monetary policy tightening in advanced economies and continued uncertainty over the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These factors could affect business sentiments and profitability, and in turn, labour demand,” MOM said.

Source: CNA/ga(gs)

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