Singapore’s Labour Market To Decline As Fewer Jobs Are Available


The latest statistics from Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) shows a persistent weakening in labour demand, with jobs  falling for the sixth straight quarter. While booming industries such as healthcare and finance have contributed to greater employment, total work prospects have decreased.

According to Q3 MOM data, the number of jobs remained at 78,400 in September 2023, down from a record high of 126,000 in March 2022. The employment-to-unemployment ratio dropped to 1.58 in September from 1.94 in June.

The services sector comprised more than half of the 38,700 jobs in September, with openings listed for management, professional, executive, and technical roles. One-third of all employment opportunities were of health and social services, information and communications, professional services, and financial and insurance services.

Related link: Malaysia’s Labour Productivity By Sector in Q2 2023

Total employment growth, excluding migrant domestic workers, dropped to 23,600, representing the eighth consecutive quarter of increase but at a slower pace since Q3’2022. Employment declined in food and beverage (F&B) services and retail commerce, owing to students leaving temporary positions at the conclusion of their holidays. However, MOM expects a jump in temporary hiring in the fourth quarter as F&B and retail establishments gear up for year-end festivals.

Long-term unemployment among residents rose from 0.5% in June to 0.7% in September, matching pre-pandemic levels across most age categories. And layoffs increased to 4,110, with wholesale commerce accounting for the lion’s share. According to The Straits Times, MOM attributed retrenchments to reorganisation or restructuring, with more firms claiming business and cost issues compared to the previous quarter.

According to Jester Koh, Associate Economist at UOB, the increasing recruitment in health and social services might be structural, indicating rising demand in an ageing population. He also stated that wholesale trade retrenchments correspond with decreased activity in the industry, although he sees a potential comeback by mid-2024 as global economic circumstances improve.

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