Weaker job market expected in 4Q: ManpowerGroup survey

Kok Xinghui

SINGAPORE (Sept 10): Jobseekers in the republic may have a harder time finding employment in the final quarter of this year. Out of 669 employers surveyed, only 13% intend to add to their headcount while 77% are not planning for any changes.

Hiring prospects weakened by 7 percentage points compared to the previous quarter, and by 8 percentage points compared to the same time a year ago. This was according to a survey by ManpowerGroup Singapore, which asked participants how they thought total employment at their workplaces will change in the three months of the year compared to the current quarter.

While sectors like public administration and education expect to increase headcounts by 19%, sectors like transportation and utilities expect to trim payrolls by 5%. The manufacturing sector is anticipating its weakest labour market in a decade, while finance, insurance and real estate are expecting the weakest hiring pace in two years.

The resulting net employment outlook for Singapore this quarter is +4%, the weakest outlook reported in two years. In comparison, Japan has a +26% outlook, Taiwan is at +21%. Singapore ranked 38th out of the 44 countries ManpowerGroup surveyed globally. Spain is at the bottom, with a flat labour market.

Linda Teo, Country Manager of ManpowerGroup Singapore, pegged the weak outlook to companies being cautious about hiring given the ongoing US-China trade war and warnings of a possible recession.

“Some companies are also turning to upskilling their employees instead of hiring new staff,” says Teo.

But while job opportunities are limited, Teo said there are still pockets of opportunity as employers hire to fill skill gaps in their workforce.

“Job seekers, especially IT talent, with trending skills such as digital marketing and blockchain will find it easier to secure a job as companies move towards digitalising their processes,” adds Teo.