Singapore’s Labor Market Faces Issues As Retrenchments Rise



According to the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) advanced labor market predictions, Singapore had a notable increase in layoffs in 2023—more than tripling the numbers from the year before.

Retrenchments increased dramatically in 2023 to 14,320 from 6,440 the year before. Even though there were 3,200 fewer job cutbacks in the fourth quarter compared to 4,110 in the third, the overall trend highlighted the difficulties that different industries face.

According to MOM, a major factor in the decrease was the drop in layoffs in the wholesale commerce industry. The ministry ascribed the sharp increase in layoffs to corporate restructuring or reorganization, which was principally prompted by the negative effects of worldwide economic conditions on export-oriented industries including electronics manufacture, wholesale trade, and IT services.

According to MOM’s re-entry statistics, the majority of laid-off workers usually found new jobs within six months after their layoff, frequently in unrelated industries, demonstrating the transferability of their skill set.

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The last quarter of 2023 saw 8,400 more jobs added to the workforce, which is the ninth consecutive quarter of growth. In contrast to prior quarters, MOM highlighted a notable slowdown in the growth of overall employment for both residents and non-residents. The change was ascribed to lower hiring expectations and a decrease in job openings, which suggested a cooling labor market.

“Total employment growth for the full year of 2023 was moderate amidst weaker economic conditions (from 227,800 to 89,400),” according to MOM. “The more muted pace of growth was seen for both residents and non-residents, following the sharp, post-pandemic rebound in 2022.”

The overall unemployment rate in December 2023 stayed at 2%, and MOM characterized the rates as “stable and low” for the entire year.

MOM expressed optimism about 2024 based on polls showing that company expectations are improving. The government stated that better economic growth prospects are anticipated for the year by the government of Trade and Industry. The research did, however, issue a warning about possible negative effects on the world economy, speculating that corporate restructuring or reorganization may result in more layoffs and a little increase in unemployment, according to CNA.

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