Total employment in Singapore grows for first time since start of pandemic

Singapore’s labour market is showing shoots of recovery with total employment growing by 4,800 in Q1'21 after four consecutive quarters of decline.
By: | April 29, 2021

This was the first time total employment figures showed growth since the pandemic started, according to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). 

The growth was mostly from the hiring of residents in sectors such as information and communications, financial services and professional services, which continued to see employment expansion. The construction sector also contributed slightly to the growth. 

Employment in the manufacturing sector continued to shrink, although at a slower pace. 

In general, resident employment growth was broad-based, and contraction in non-resident employment was also seen in all sectors. 

The overall unemployment rate decreased marginally from 3.0% to 2.9% quarter-on-quarter in Q1 this year, falling over the past two quarters, but still remaining above pre-pandemic levels. 

The number of retrenchments fell for the second consecutive quarter to 2,100 in Q1 this year to pre-pandemic levels. 

Separately, the Macroeconomic Review by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said “Resident wage growth is anticipated to rise only slightly from the 1.4% recorded last year, in part reflecting its lagged response to improving labour conditions.” 

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It cited lingering economic uncertainties and weakened corporate balance sheets as limiting factors to the pace of resident wage increases. 

MAS added that the pandemic may also have accelerated the economy’s shift away from low-productivity sectors badly affected by COVID-19, towards sectors with strong post-pandemic growth prospects and workers that bring higher value-add.