Labour market statistics are released each quarter to paint a picture of the employment situation in Singapore. Given that we are in the midst of battling COVID-19, the figures released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) are getting scrutinised more closely.
In the 1st quarter 2021 Labour Market Report, there were indications of broad improvements in the economy and the employment market. However, at the tail-end of 2Q 2021 (from 16 May to 13 June 2021), Singapore reverted to Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) measures. This likely impacted the statistics. In all likelihood, we may see a further deterioration in the numbers for 3Q 2021 – as several false starts to reopen occurred.
With that as a precursor to a slight decline in employment statistics, here are 4 things every business owner (and employee) should know about the labour market.
#1 Highest Ever Job Vacancy Rate In Singapore – 1.63 Job Openings For Every Unemployed Person
Rather surprisingly, despite poorer statistics (which you will read in the subsequent points), there is a record number of job vacancies in Singapore today. To be exact, there are 92,100 job openings. This eclipses the previous high by almost 50%, which was in 1Q 2021, where there was 68,400 job openings. And far surpasses any of the past periods of recovery after a downturn.
This translates to an astounding 1.63 job vacancies for every unemployed person in Singapore.
Perhaps less surprisingly, this has happened because of notable increases in job openings within the Construction and Manufacturing sectors. Border restrictions have hampered the ability of businesses in these industries, which are traditionally reliant on foreign labour, to get workers from overseas.
Nevertheless, there were also promising signs as more vacancies continued to arise within the Financial & Insurance Services, Information & Communications and Professional Services sectors.
There were also sector that saw a dwindling number of job openings. These included Transportation & Storage, Accommodation, Arts, Entertainment & Recreation and Retail Trade. Majority of these sectors have been impacted by the tightening COVID-19 restrictions.
#2 Citizen Unemployment Rose To 3.9%
Singapore is definitely not out of the woods yet. After consistently registering improvements in unemployment levels for the past 8 months, unemployment levels rose in July 2021.
Despite the initial Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) measures coming into effect from 13 May 2021 till 13 June 2021, unemployment actually improved in those months. It subsequently dipped in July 2021 – very likely as a result of several false starts to reopen the Singapore economy.
Interestingly, the group most affected by an uptick in unemployment was degree holders. For this group, unemployment rose to 3.5% from 3.2%.
For those with Below Secondary and Secondary, the unemployment rate held fairly stable at 3.2% and 4.4% respectively. Those with Post-Secondary (Non-Tertiary) and Diploma & Professional Qualification fared better, with unemployment improving to 3.5% from 5.0% and 3.4% from 4.6% respectively.
#3 2,340 Individuals Retrenched In 2Q 2021, Higher Than Last Quarter
The number of retrenchments rose to 2,340 in 2Q 2021, from 2,270 in 1Q 2021. The rate of retrenchments rose in Electronics Manufacturing and Construction. While the retrenchment rate was lower in the services sector, it still contributed 1,480 retrenchments.
Again, those who were more highly educated were more severely impacted by retrenchments.
This may not paint the full picture as sectors which bore the worst brunt of tightened COVID-19 safe management measures, such as F&B, Retail Trade, and Air transport & Support Services contributed to more employees being put on short work-week or temporary layoffs. This numbered 5,580 in 2Q 2021, compared to 4,020 in 1Q 2021.
#4 64.4% Of Those Retrenched Found A Job Within 6 Months – A Slowdown From 1Q 2021
After rising in the previous two quarters, the rate at which people found jobs after getting retrenched dipped again in 2Q 2021.
Again, this did not affect all segments of the population uniformly. Older employees tended to be affected more, as less of them were able to find another job within 6 months of getting retrenched.
Those who were more highly educated, however, were more likely to find another job within 6 months.
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