Singapore's total employment grows for 5th straight quarter, but MOM notes recent rise in retrenchments
The projected slowdown in economic growth would likely ease the momentum in the labour market in 2023, says the Manpower Ministry.
SINGAPORE: Singapore's total employment grew in the fourth quarter of 2022 - the fifth consecutive quarter of increase - even as the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) warns of easing momentum in the labour market in the year ahead.
According to MOM's advance estimates, total employment - excluding migrant domestic workers - rose by 47,400 in the fourth quarter compared with 75,900 in the earlier quarter.
"While non-resident employment growth still contributed to most of the increase, it has moderated from the highs of the last two quarters," said the ministry, adding that the increase in non-resident employment was concentrated in construction.
Resident employment also picked up over the quarter, amid hiring for year-end festivities in sectors such as retail and food and beverage services.
For the whole of 2022, total employment grew by an unprecedented 231,700, surpassing its pre-pandemic level by 3 per cent, said MOM.
This was largely driven by non-residents, following the easing of border controls in April 2022 and the backfilling of vacancies in sectors such as construction.
Unemployment rates remained low in December 2022 - at 2 per cent overall - below pre-pandemic levels.
"The tight labour market and economic recovery in 2022 has led to continued improvements in the unemployment situation, to its pre-pandemic steady state," MOM noted.
Retrenchments rose in the fourth quarter to 3,000, an increase from the previous quarter's figure of 1,300.
There were more retrenchments in electronics, as well as information technology and wholesale trade.
"Retrenchments in other sectors were stable," said MOM.
"Despite the recent rise, the number of retrenchments in 4Q 2022 remained within the quarterly range observed in 2019. MOM is closely monitoring the situation amid the weakening global economic outlook."
For the whole of 2022, the number of retrenchments stood at 6,450, lower than the figure of 8,020 in 2021 and pre-pandemic levels.
The uncertain global economic environment, higher inflation, as well as geopolitical tensions, will weigh on the labour market going forward, said the ministry.
"While hiring sentiments remain positive in the coming months based on company polls, the projected slowdown in economic growth in 2023 would likely ease the momentum of labour market improvements," it added.
"With the recent uptick in retrenchments, unemployment rates could also trend higher."
The 2022 labour market report, which will provide more details on the jobs and employment situation, is expected to be released in mid-March.