SINGAPORE – Singapore’s labour market improved in the third quarter of this year, compared with the second quarter, despite the continuing heightened Covid-19 restrictions, the Manpower Ministry (MOM) said in advanced estimates released on Friday (Oct 29).

The number of retrenchments fell and total employment decline also slowed – thanks to resident employment, which covers Singapore citizens and permanent residents, growing faster.

Sectors such as travel-related ones are likely to start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, with vaccinated travel lanes (VTLs) opening up to more countries.

Total employment, excluding migrant domestic workers, fell by 3,400 in the third quarter, which was considerably gentler than the plunge of 16,300 in the second quarter.

The decline was due to non-resident employment, while resident employment grew more quickly instead.

But total employment growth remained K-shaped in the third quarter, with recovery remaining uneven across sectors, MOM noted.

Outward-oriented sectors such as professional services, information and communications, as well as financial services continued to see resident employment expansion.

On the other hand, food and beverage (F&B) services, retail trade and accommodation trimmed their resident workforce.

“This reflected ongoing Covid-19 border restrictions and safe management measures imposed in the third quarter,” MOM said.

With these, non-resident employment continued to contract across most sectors in the third quarter.

“With Singapore’s recent extension of its stabilisation phase till end-November, we expect the mixed employment trends observed in the third quarter to continue into the next quarter,” MOM said.

It added that sectors such as F&B services and retail trade will continue to be affected, as the extended Covid-19 measures include group size curbs on dine in and other social activities.

The expansion of the VTL and travel-related activities however “may give an uplift to industries such as accommodation and air transport services”, MOM said.

Retrenchments, a key indicator for the labour market, are expected to remain low, MOM added.

There were 2,000 layoffs in the third quarter, which is less than a quarter of the figure recorded during the peak of the pandemic last year.

This was also a decline from the 2,340 retrenchments seen in the previous quarter.

“Consequently, we expect the incidence of retrenchment in the third quarter – at a projected 1.1 retrenched per 1,000 employees – to fall from the 1.3 registered in the second quarter,” MOM said.

Unemployment rates also fell, although they remain elevated compared with pre-pandemic levels.

Last month, resident unemployment rates stood at 3.5 per cent, while overall unemployment rates were at 2.6 per cent.

This marks the second month of consecutive decline, after the unemployment rates ticked up in July.

Last modified: October 29, 2021