Singapore’s tight labour market poses recruitment challenges

An increase in job vacancies has been concentrated in certain growth sectors, while younger job seekers are taking longer to accept roles.
By: | June 20, 2024

Despite an increase in job vacancies, the unemployment rate in Singapore rose slightly in March 2024, according to a new report by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

Driven by growth sectors such as health and social services, information and communications, professional services, as well as financial and insurance services, there were 89,000 job vacancies recorded in March 2024, up from 79,800 in December 2023.

With the number of job vacancies outstripping job seekers, MOM reported the ratio of vacancies to unemployed people declining from 1.74 in December 2023 to 1.56 in March 2024. The overall unemployment rate reached 2.1 per cent, with the resident (Singaporeans and permanent residents) unemployment rate at 3 per cent and 3.1 per cent for Singaporeans.

Retrenchments declined for the second consecutive quarter, from 3,460 in the fourth quarter of 2023 to 3,030 in the first quarter of 2024. In this period, retrenchment reached 1.3 per 1,000 employees, down from 1.9 per 1,000 employees in the third quarter of 2023.

The most common reasons cited by organisations who retrenched employees include “business reorganisation” or “business restructuring”. Almost 6 in 10 retrenched employees (59.4%) were able to re-enter employment within six months, even though this represents a slight dip from the previous quarter (61.5%).

READ MORE: Remote work or going overseas: What employees in Singapore want

Overall, the resident long-term unemployment rate increased from 0.7 per cent in December 2023 to 0.8 per cent in March 2024. This can be attributed to unemployment for those aged below 30, which rose from 1 per cent to 1.2 percent; and those 60 and over, which grew from 0.7 per cent to 0.9 percent, reported The Straits Times.

MOM said, “For residents aged below 30, the increase in long-term unemployment rate could be due to individuals holding out for a better job or taking time to explore different career options post-graduation. For residents aged 60 and over, the long-term unemployment rate remained comparable to pre-pandemic levels of 0.8 per cent.”

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