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Employment exceeds pre-Covid levels in Q3 but shows signs of easing as economic growth slows: MOM

SINGAPORE — Total employment surpassed pre-pandemic levels in September for the first time since Covid-19 struck, but signs are pointing towards an easing of the labour market amid slower economic growth, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Friday.

The Ministry of Manpower expects demand in tourism- and consumer-related sectors to remain robust, supported by the recovery of international visitor arrivals and year-end festive hiring.
The Ministry of Manpower expects demand in tourism- and consumer-related sectors to remain robust, supported by the recovery of international visitor arrivals and year-end festive hiring.

Singapore

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  • Total employment grew by 75,600 in the third quarter of 2022, surpassing its pre-pandemic level in September
  • This was driven mainly by non-resident workers
  • Unemployment rates inched up in September from a six-year-low in August
  • Retrenchments also rose to 1,600 from the previous quarter's historical low of 830

SINGAPORE — Total employment surpassed pre-pandemic levels in September for the first time since Covid-19 struck, but signs are pointing towards an easing of the labour market amid slower economic growth, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Friday.

The number of people employed in Singapore excluding foreign domestic workers outgrew the previous quarter, driven mainly by non-resident employment, early estimates showed.

However, over the third quarter, unemployment rates and retrenchments also rose.

“While forward-looking data shows that overall hiring sentiments among firms remain optimistic, some unevenness in growth could emerge across sectors in the final quarter of 2022,” MOM said.

The ministry expects demand in tourism- and consumer-related sectors to remain robust, supported by the recovery of international visitor arrivals and year-end festive hiring.

Elsewhere in trade-reliant sectors such as manufacturing, employment growth could be more subdued as external demand weakens.

TOTAL EMPLOYMENT

Total employment, excluding foreign domestic workers, grew by 75,600 in the third quarter, surpassing the previous quarter’s growth of 66,500. 

Resident employment went up further, though the pace of increase had slowed.

Non-residents employment continued its robust growth.

Similar to past quarters, the rise in resident employment was led by outward-oriented sectors of information and communications, professional services and financial services.

However, MOM observed sustained declines in the administrative and support services sector. The ministry said that this partly reflected the gradual scale-back of Covid-related occupations such as safe-distancing ambassadors and vaccination centre workers.

In contrast, non-resident employment grew steadily across all sectors, with increases concentrated in the construction and manufacturing sectors, which are more reliant on non-resident workers.

UNEMPLOYMENT

Unemployment rates inched up in September from a six-year low in August, though the rates in September remained within the pre-Covid range.

In September, unemployment rates were 3.1 per cent for Singapore citizens, 2.9 per cent for residents — which included both citizens and permanent residents — and 2 per cent overall.

Over the quarter, the number of unemployed residents rose from 69,300 in June to 70,900 in September. 

RETRENCHMENTS

Referring to its latest survey results, MOM said that retrenchments were expected to be at 1,600 for the third quarter, up from the previous quarter’s all-time low of 830.

However, the retrenchments for the third quarter continued to be lower than pre-Covid levels of 2,680 based on the quarterly average number of retrenchments in 2018 and 2019, it added.

Retrenchments were mainly in two sectors: Services, primarily due to business reorganisation or restructuring, and manufacturing, mainly as a result of the discontinuation of product lines.

Firms may also be restructuring business operations and laying off employees in anticipation of  a weakened global economy, high inflation, tighter central bank monetary policies and geopolitical uncertainties, MOM said.

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