SINGAPORE — The number of job vacancies declined for the fifth consecutive quarter to 87,900 in the second quarter of 2023, according to the Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) second-quarter 2023 labour market report.
In a sign that labour demand is cooling off from its peak of 126,000 vacancies in the first quarter of 2022, MOM said that growth sectors – including professional services, information & communications and financial services – made up more than one-fifth of the overall available job vacancies in June 2023.
Correspondingly, the ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons also dipped significantly for the second consecutive quarter to 1.94, following the drop in job vacancies.
Total employment grew moderately
Conversely, total employment expanded for the seventh consecutive quarter by 24,300 in the second quarter of 2023, but at a slower pace compared to 33,000 in the first quarter of 2023. The employment increases in the second quarter of 2023 were from 25,500 non-residents, while resident employment contracted by 1,200.
The increase in non-resident employment was driven mainly by the construction sector. On the other hand, resident employment growth contracted as robust increases in sectors such as community, social & personal services and financial & insurance services were offset by decreases in the food & beverage services and retail trade sectors due to outflow from the discontinuation of seasonal hiring.
Unemployment remains low, retrenchments declined
With the labour market remaining relatively tight, resident unemployment and long-term unemployment rates have stayed low in the second quarter of 2023. The overall unemployment rate was 1.9 per cent in the same quarter, where resident unemployment was at 2.7 per cent and citizen unemployment rate was at 2.8 per cent. The resident long-term unemployment rate remained low at 0.5 per cent in the same quarter.
Retrenchments have also declined in the second quarter of 2023 after rising for three quarters. The number of retrenchments fell from 3,820 in the first quarter of 2023 to 3,200 in the second quarter. According to MOM, 69.9 per cent of all retrenchments in the quarter cited reorganisation or restructuring as the main reason for retrenchments.
The number of retrenchments in this quarter was driven by the information & communications sector, mainly due to reorganisation or restructuring, and concerns about high costs within the sector. Still, the likelihood of retrenched residents from this sector finding new jobs is relatively high at 69.2 per cent - compared to their counterparts in other industries.
Citing downside risks that remain in the global economy – including more persistent-than-expected inflation in advanced economies and geopolitical tensions among major global powers – MOM predicts that labour demand could ease further and be uneven across industries.
"The growth prospects for the various sectors of the Singapore economy remain uneven for the rest of the year. In particular, the outlook for outward-oriented sectors like manufacturing and finance & insurance remains weak given the continued weakness in the external economic environment," the report noted.
"On the other hand, the outlook for aviation and tourism-related sectors like air transport and accommodation, as well as consumer-facing sectors like retail trade and food & beverage services, remains positive due in large part to the ongoing recovery in international air travel and inbound tourism," said MOM.