Singapore job market declined for the first time in 14 years

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Singapore’s total working population, excluding foreign domestic workers, shrank for the first time since 2003 by an estimated 10,700 last year, according to preliminary figures released by the Ministry of Manpower on January 26. The reduction was due to a larger contraction in foreign employment of 32,000 in 2017, compared to 2,500 in 2016, the ministry said

However, local employment grew by an estimated 21,300 in 2017, nearly double the growth of 11,200 in 2016 as Singapore’s economy expanded by 3.5 per cent last year. The foreign employment decline was mainly due to the decrease in work permit holders in the construction and marine sectors.

Overall, the country’s annual average unemployment rate reached 2.2 per cent last year, compared with 2.1 per cent in 2016. The unemployment rate for residents grew from three per cent to 3.1 per cent, and that for citizens grew from 3.1 per cent to 3.3 per cent, the ministry said.

According to Morgan McKinley’s APAC Employment Monitor for the fourth quarter of 2017, there were fewer jobs as well as people seeking employment in Singapore in that period. In comparison with the strong previous quarter, employment opportunities were down by 20 per cent, and 37 per cent fewer individuals sought new employment.

In addition to this, 2017’s Job Happiness Index for Singaporean workers released on January 27 showed that 45 per cent of Singaporeans are “dissatisfied or unhappy” with their work. Three key factors were identified that led to these feelings: Problems with the leadership or management of the company, scarcity of opportunities for professional development and scarcity of opportunities for training.

According to Patrick Tay, assistant secretary-general of Singapore’s National Trades Union Congress, it was “crucial for workers to continuously upgrade and up-skill themselves so they can take on the new and in-demand jobs amidst the rapidity of digital and technology disruption”.

He noted that despite the cyclical uptrend in 2017 and a positive outlook into 2018, he would expect to still see “pockets of layoffs due to technological and digital disruption with companies and businesses re-examining their strategies and focus”.

Tay also said that the decline in total employment due to foreign workers being released in the marine and construction sectors was owing to cyclical weakness. There are expected to be “good job opportunities” in the manufacturing and services sectors such as in infocomm and media, finance and insurance, healthcare and engineering, he said.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Singapore’s total working population, excluding foreign domestic workers, shrank for the first time since 2003 by an estimated 10,700 last year, according to preliminary figures released by the Ministry of Manpower on January 26. The reduction was due to a larger contraction in foreign employment of 32,000 in 2017, compared to 2,500 in 2016, the ministry said

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Singapore’s total working population, excluding foreign domestic workers, shrank for the first time since 2003 by an estimated 10,700 last year, according to preliminary figures released by the Ministry of Manpower on January 26. The reduction was due to a larger contraction in foreign employment of 32,000 in 2017, compared to 2,500 in 2016, the ministry said

However, local employment grew by an estimated 21,300 in 2017, nearly double the growth of 11,200 in 2016 as Singapore’s economy expanded by 3.5 per cent last year. The foreign employment decline was mainly due to the decrease in work permit holders in the construction and marine sectors.

Overall, the country’s annual average unemployment rate reached 2.2 per cent last year, compared with 2.1 per cent in 2016. The unemployment rate for residents grew from three per cent to 3.1 per cent, and that for citizens grew from 3.1 per cent to 3.3 per cent, the ministry said.

According to Morgan McKinley’s APAC Employment Monitor for the fourth quarter of 2017, there were fewer jobs as well as people seeking employment in Singapore in that period. In comparison with the strong previous quarter, employment opportunities were down by 20 per cent, and 37 per cent fewer individuals sought new employment.

In addition to this, 2017’s Job Happiness Index for Singaporean workers released on January 27 showed that 45 per cent of Singaporeans are “dissatisfied or unhappy” with their work. Three key factors were identified that led to these feelings: Problems with the leadership or management of the company, scarcity of opportunities for professional development and scarcity of opportunities for training.

According to Patrick Tay, assistant secretary-general of Singapore’s National Trades Union Congress, it was “crucial for workers to continuously upgrade and up-skill themselves so they can take on the new and in-demand jobs amidst the rapidity of digital and technology disruption”.

He noted that despite the cyclical uptrend in 2017 and a positive outlook into 2018, he would expect to still see “pockets of layoffs due to technological and digital disruption with companies and businesses re-examining their strategies and focus”.

Tay also said that the decline in total employment due to foreign workers being released in the marine and construction sectors was owing to cyclical weakness. There are expected to be “good job opportunities” in the manufacturing and services sectors such as in infocomm and media, finance and insurance, healthcare and engineering, he said.

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