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Singapore’s labour market sees improvement in 2022

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Overall unemployment rate falls to 2.1%

According to research conducted by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower, the labour market improved in 2022 as compared to 2021. The unemployment rate declined, with the overall rate dropping from 2.7% in 2021 to 2.1% in 2022. The resident unemployment rate also fell from 3.5% to 2.9%, and the citizen unemployment rate decreased from 3.7% to 3.0%. These rates were all below pre-pandemic levels.

Total employment witnessed a significant increase of 227,800 in 2022, a record high that brought the total employment level 2.9% above the pre-pandemic 2019 level. Resident employment saw steady growth, with an increase of 26,300 in 2022, primarily in sectors like financial services and information & communications. By December 2022, the resident employment level had exceeded 2019’s level by 4.8%.

Non-resident (foreign) employment was responsible for the majority of the increase in total employment (201,600), with Work Permit Holders (WP+) hiring in sectors such as construction and manufacturing. This increase was primarily due to the significant relaxation of border controls in April 2022, allowing employers to fill positions left vacant during the pandemic.

Despite an increase in the last two quarters of 2022, the total number of layoffs for the year (6,440) was lower than pre-pandemic levels, with business reorganisation/restructuring being the primary reason for layoffs. The percentage of dismissed residents who found employment six months after being laid off increased to 73.1% in Q4 2022, the highest since Q2 2015 (73.6%).

However, the Ministry warns that global economic headwinds and slower growth may impact labour demand going forward, and employment growth is likely to ease from the increase in 2022 and be uneven across sectors. Nonetheless, hiring sentiments remain positive, according to December 2022 data.


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