1,120 retrenched in Q3, driven by tech firms
Retrenchments in Singapore increased in the third quarter of this year, up from the previous quarter’s record low, while the overall tightness in the labour market eased with job vacancies dropping for a second straight quarter.
“Although the labour market continues to see improvement and labour demand remains robust, the uncertain global economic environment, higher global inflation, as well as geopolitical tensions, will weigh on the labour market going forward,” the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said in its third-quarter labour market report released on Thursday.
There were 1,120 retrenchments in Singapore from July to September, up from the record low of 830 set in the previous quarter but “a step down from pre-pandemic levels”, MOM said.
Driving the increase were technology firms, which saw layoffs increase from 110 to 460, MOM said.
“Vacancies in the sector remained high, suggesting that these retrenchments were a consequence of restructuring efforts within the sector,” said the ministry.
This follows a series of high-profile mass cuts from regional and global tech firms, including Sea’s Shopee, Facebook parent Meta, Stripe and Twitter, that hit Singapore employees in the second half of 2022.
Retrenchments in other sectors stayed low and were mainly due to restructuring or reorganisation, MOM noted.
It also said the percentage of retrenched residents - that is Singaporeans and permanent residents - who found employment within six months continued to decline, dropping to 64.8 per cent, down from a high of 71.5 per cent in the first quarter, and comparable to pre-Covid-19 rates.
Those placed on a shorter work-week or temporarily laid off rose to 920, from 600 the previous quarter, but remained low compared to pre-pandemic levels as well.
Meanwhile, the overall labour market tightness eased as the total number of job vacancies declined for the second consecutive quarter to 108,200 in September.
In tandem, the ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons declined to just over 2.2, from over 2.5 in June.
The bulk of job vacancies were in manufacturing and construction, as well as the information and communications, financial services, professional services and health and social services sectors, said MOM.
Employment growth in the third quarter, at 75,900, edged up from the 66,500 increase seen in the previous, with total employment now 1.7 per cent above the 2019 level.
Much of the increase - 71,100 - came from non-resident employment, which continued its recovery toward pre-Covid-19 levels.
Resident employment, which is already 4.4 per cent above the 2019 level, grew at a more moderate pace of 4,800.
MOM said non-resident employment growth was concentrated in manufacturing and construction, sectors with a higher share of non-resident workers.
Outward-oriented sectors such as financial services, professional services, information and communications, as well as accommodation drove resident employment growth.
The resident unemployment rate clocked 2.8 per cent in October 2022, remaining within the pre-Covid-19 range.
The resident long-term unemployment rate was unchanged over the quarter in September 2022, at 0.7 per cent, after returning to pre-Covid-19 levels in June 2022.
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