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Job vacancies in June reach record 92,100; many unfilled roles in construction, manufacturing due to border curbs

SINGAPORE — The number of job vacancies rose to an all-time high in June, exceeding its previous high three months earlier, as border restrictions due to Covid-19 continued to prevent non-resident workers from entering Singapore to take up some of these jobs.

There were 92,100 job vacancies in June 2021, up from the previous record of 68,400 in March 2021.

There were 92,100 job vacancies in June 2021, up from the previous record of 68,400 in March 2021.

  • Job vacancies rose to an all-time high of 92,100 in June 2021
  • The Ministry of Manpower said many positions are in construction and manufacturing, which are usually taken up by foreigners
  • They can’t be filled owing to border restrictions
  • Other sectors such as finance and insurance as well as information and communications also see more job vacancies

 

SINGAPORE — The number of job vacancies rose to an all-time high in June, exceeding its previous high three months earlier, as border restrictions due to Covid-19 continued to prevent non-resident workers from entering Singapore to take up some of these jobs.

There were 92,100 vacancies in June, up from the previous record of 68,400 in March.

As the number of unemployed persons also dropped, the ratio of job vacancies to jobless persons went up to 1.63 — the first time it has risen above 1 since March 2019.

This means that there are 163 openings for every 100 unemployed individuals.

The Ministry of Manpower released these figures on Wednesday (Sept 15) in its latest labour market report.

Amid tighter coronavirus curbs under a heightened phase to arrest a surge in infections from May 16 to June 13, the number of employed citizens and permanent residents (PRs) grew more slowly in the second quarter of the year. The number of foreign workers also dropped.

Overall, the total number of employed workers, excluding foreign domestic workers, fell by 16,200 from April to June.

Unemployment rates also fell in June, compared with March, but remain higher than pre-pandemic levels.

The jobless rate among residents in their 40s and those with degrees climbed.

JOB VACANCIES

Openings in the construction and manufacturing sectors formed nearly half the increase in vacancies for the second quarter (11,400 openings out of the jump of 26,800).

“The ongoing border restrictions have affected the availability of manpower for these sectors as they have a higher reliance on non-resident workers,” MOM said.

The sectors that saw more vacancies are:

  • Financial and insurance services

  • Information and communications

  • Professional services

The sectors hit by Covid-19 that registered fewer job vacancies are:

  • Transport and storage

  • Accommodation

  • Arts, entertainment and recreation

  • Retail trade

At a media briefing on Wednesday, Mr Aubeck Kam, MOM’s permanent secretary, noted that the increase in job vacancies were not in sectors that Singaporeans traditionally would want to work in, particularly construction.

“Although we observed that the number of job vacancies is high, we are not signalling that it is a major shift and it certainly doesn’t change our assessment that the progress is going to be uneven,” he said.

Nevertheless, the growth in vacancies was “quite broad-based”, since other sectors are also hiring.

“My broad message would be that… it does mean a bit more job opportunity for jobseekers in sectors that they may be more familiar with,” said Mr Kam.

Mr Ang Boon Heng, director of manpower research and statistics at MOM, said that half of these jobs were for professionals, managers, executives and technicians.

EMPLOYMENT

In the second quarter, the sectors that saw declines in employment are:

  • Construction (which shrank by 5,100 workers)

  • Manufacturing (-4,300)

  • Food and beverage services (-5,700)

  • Retail trade (-2,600)

  • Administrative and support services (-2,100)

  • Arts, entertainment and recreation (-1,400)

  • Accommodation (-900)

The sectors that saw higher employment levels are:

  • Health and social services (which recorded an expansion of 4,200 workers)

  • Information and communications (3,700)

  • Professional services (1,900)

  • Financial and insurance services (500)

Citizens and PRs made up the increases in their entirety.

For the first half of 2021:

  • The decline in employment (by 32,600 workers) was made up of non-residents

  • The number of citizens and PRs in employment rose by 28,500

  • On the whole, the total number of employed workers fell by 4,000

UNEMPLOYMENT

In June, unemployment rates dipped:

  • Citizens and PRs: 3.5 per cent (3.8 per cent in May)

  • Citizens: 3.7 per cent (4 per cent in May)

  • Overall: 2.7 per cent (2.8 per cent in May)

Between March and June, unemployment among citizens and PRs declined across most age and educational groups but rose among residents in their 40s (from 3.2 per cent to 3.7 per cent) and those with degrees (from 3.2 per cent to 3.5 per cent).

Unemployment rates, however, climbed in July, compared with June:

  • Citizens and PRs: 3.7 per cent

  • Citizens: 3.9 per cent

  • Overall: 2.8 per cent

MOM said that the increase, after a consistent downward trend for the previous eight months, was because of the temporary easing of labour demand in sectors hit by tighter Covid-19 rules when the heightened phase was reimposed in July.

More than 5,500 workers were placed on short workweek or temporary layoff arrangements in the second quarter, higher than 4,000 in the previous quarter.

This was, however, still significantly below the peak of 81,720 in the second quarter of last year. That was when Singapore came under a two-month partial lockdown, which halted almost all economic and social activities to combat Covid-19. 

RETRENCHMENT

The number of people retrenched, meanwhile, inched up to 2,340 in the second quarter from 2,270 in the first three months of the year.

This remains within the quarterly pre-pandemic range in 2018 and 2019, said MOM.

Most of the retrenchments (58 per cent) were due to business restructuring and reorganisation.

Services sectors hit by more stringent coronavirus curbs, such as food and beverage (F&B), did not report higher retrenchments. Instead, more workers were placed on short workweeks or laid off temporarily.

OUTLOOK

Mr Ang from MOM said that the tighter restrictions reimposed from July 22 to Aug 18 would probably not have a great impact on the labour market in the third quarter, as the rates of vaccination against Covid-19 are much higher and there is more optimism.

Most of the impact would be in the form of workers being placed on short workweeks and temporary layoffs, he said, adding that MOM does not expect the labour market to perform worse than the second quarter.

With national and border restrictions likely to ease gradually as more people get immunised, MOM said that employment levels should rise, which would in turn lower unemployment.

“However, we should expect the labour market recovery to be uneven across sectors as uncertainties in the external economic environment remain,” the ministry said in a statement.

The tourism and aviation sectors are expected to chart a slow recovery with the cautious lifting of travel restrictions and continued sluggish international travel demand.

Consumer-facing sectors such as F&B and the retail trade should recover as national restrictions ease, but they are not expected to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels owing to the dearth of tourists.

Even so, outward-oriented sectors such as manufacturing, finance and insurance services as well as information and communications have strong growth prospects, given the improvements in global demand, MOM said.

Related topics

unemployment Jobs Ministry of Manpower Job Vacancies foreigners

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