Singapore’s resident employment rebounds to pre-pandemic levels

At the end of 2020, resident employment increased by 28,900, rising for the second consecutive quarter after growing 43,200 in 3Q.
By: | February 1, 2021

This marked an improvement from the contractions in the first half of 2020, and bringing the figure back to pre-COVID levels.  

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) attributed this improvement to efforts by tripartite partners through the National Wage Council guidelines, National Jobs Council, SG United Jobs and Skills Package. 

In contrast, for 4Q 2020, non-resident employment declined by 42,400, dragging total employment down by 13,500 in that quarter. 

Looking at 2020 as a whole, resident employment grew by 9,300, while non-resident employment fell by 181,500 or 16%, accounting for all of the total employment contraction last year. As a result, overall employment fell by 172,200. 

Unemployment rates decreased for the second consecutive month in December. Overall unemployment rates dropped marginally from 3.3% to 3.2%, while those of residents fell from 4.6% to 4.4%. 

In 4Q, the number of workers retrenched was 6,100, lower than 3Q’s 9,120. This marked the first dip in retrenchment numbers after five consecutive quarters of increases.  

For the full year, the total number of retrenchments is expected to hit 26,570, particularly affecting those in sectors such as arts, entertainment & recreation, wholesale trade and air transport services.   

MOM said the incidence of retrenchment for 2020 is “significantly lower” compared to past recessionary years when taking into account the size of the workforce. 

READ: Employers in Singapore urged to adopt hybrid working arrangements

Nevertheless, manpower minister Josephine Teo cautioned that retrenchment levels could remain high this year. 

“Although the momentum since the reopening of our economy has been sustained thus far, we have to acknowledge that significant risks still remain and the momentum can stall,” she said in a virtual briefing. 

“So, our priority is to try and continue to stabilise the situation and to try and boost hiring demand from within the business sector.”