Total employment in Singapore grows despite uptick in retrenchments

Despite low unemployment, 4,100 employees were retrenched in the third quarter of 2023, up from 3,200 in the previous quarter.
By: | October 27, 2023

In Q3’2023, Singapore witnessed a rise in retrenchments, even as the labour market displayed resilience in the face of a weaker economic outlook, reported the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

Advance labour market estimates released by MOM revealed that total employment extended its growth streak to the eighth consecutive quarter, with gains seen for both residents and non-residents. However, this growth was accompanied by an increase in retrenchments and unemployment, though unemployment rates remained low.

During Q3’2023, 4,100 individuals faced retrenchment, compared to 3,200 in the previous quarter. This increase originated from the wholesale trade sector, a reflection of the sector’s exposure to the weakened external economic conditions. In contrast, retrenchments in other sectors either remained stable or decreased.

“Business reorganisation and restructuring remained the top reason for retrenchments in Q3’2023,” said MOM.

Despite the uptick in retrenchments, total employment, excluding migrant domestic employees, rose by 24,000. This growth came from both residents and non-residents, with resident employment expanding in growth sectors like financial services and professional services—which generally had higher-paying jobs—as well as in health and social services. Meanwhile, non-resident employment expanded in sectors such as construction, retail trade, food and beverage services, and administrative and support services.

READ MORE: Resident employment dips in Singapore, but expected to recover

Unemployment rates remained low, with preliminary figures indicating rates of 2.8% for residents 3% for non-residents, and an overall rate of 2% in September. However, business sentiment worsened in the same month, with fewer organisations indicating an intention to hire or raise wages in the next three months.

MOM encouraged both employers and employees to take full advantage of available programmes to enhance competitiveness and resilience amidst economic uncertainty. It also emphasised the need for organisations to continue their transformation efforts, upskill and reskill their workforce, and adapt to the evolving economic landscape, reported CNA.