Talent Spot | Singapore Labour Market Report First Quarter 2018


1. Supported by sustained expansion in economic activity, the labour market improved slightly in 1Q 2018. Resident unemployment and long-term unemployment rates declined in March 2018. There were significantly fewer retrenchments and more job vacancies. Total employment grew slightly, as growth in the Services sectors more than offset declines in Work Permit Holders in the Construction and Marine Shipyard sectors.

Main Findings

-Resident unemployment and long-term unemployment rates declined

2. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined at the overall (2.1% in December 2017 to 2.0% in March 2018) and for residents (3.0% to 2.8%), and remained unchanged for citizens (3.0%). The decline in resident unemployment rate was due to those aged 30 & over, and those with post-secondary and degree qualifications.

3. At the same time, the seasonally adjusted resident long-term unemployment rate declined from 0.8% in December 2017 to 0.7% in March 2018. The decline was largest among residents aged below 30 (from 0.9% to 0.6%), and those with post-secondary qualifications (from 0.9% to 0.5%).

-Total employment grew slightly

4. In 1Q 2018, total employment (excluding Foreign Domestic Workers (FDW)) grew by 4001, a reversal from the decline a year ago in 1Q 2017 (-9,400). Employment growth in Community, Social & Personal Services, Financial Services & Insurance Services, Information & Communications, Transportation & Storage and Professional Services more than offset the decline in Work Permit Holders in Construction and Marine Shipyard. 

-Retrenchments declined significantly, while resident re-entry rate declined marginally

5. Retrenchments declined to 2,3202 in 1Q 2018, significantly lower than in 4Q 2017 (3,680) and the lowest since 1Q 2013 (2,120). The decline was broad-based across Manufacturing, Construction, and Services. The main reason for retrenchment continued to be business restructuring and reorganization.

6. The six-month re-entry rate into the employment of retrenched residents declined marginally to 61% in 1Q 2018, from 63% in 4Q 2017. The decline over the quarter was more notable among Professional, Managers, Executives & Technicians (PMETs), those with the diploma and post-secondary qualifications as well as those aged 30-39. On the other hand, the re-entry rate rose among those aged below 30 and 50 & over, and those with secondary and below qualifications.

7. With more job vacancies and fewer unemployed persons, the seasonally-adjusted job vacancies to unemployed ratio improved from 0.92 in December 2017 to 1.04 in March 2018. This was the first time since March 2016 (1.05) where there were more job vacancies than unemployed persons.


8. In 2018, overall labour demand is expected to expand, but unevenly across sectors. Job opportunities will be available in Services sectors such as Finance & Insurance, Infocomms & Media, Healthcare, Professional Services, Logistics and Wholesale Trade. However, hiring is expected to remain cautious in Construction and Marine Shipyard.

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