Foreigners make up 9 in 10 of fall in Singapore employment in first three quarters of 2020

SINGAPORE – Foreigners accounted for almost nine in 10 of Singapore’s total employment contraction in the first three quarters of this year, according to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM)’s labour market report out on Thursday (Dec 17).

This was due to a strong rebound in the employment of residents, namely Singaporeans and permanent residents, said MOM. Its employment figures do not include foreign domestic workers.

MOM said other indicators also point to a gradual pick up in the labour market, although the number of retrenched workers rose in the third quarter compared with the preceding three months.

From January to September this year, the total number of people working, excluding foreign domestic workers, fell by 158,700.

Non-residents made up 139,100 of this figure, while resident employment declined by a significantly slimmer margin of 19,600.

MOM said the rebound in resident employment in the third quarter offset most of the earlier declines for this segment of workers.

Resident employment rose by 43,200 to 2.34 million in September, only 0.4 per cent lower than the same month last year.

“This reflects the strong support measures for residents, including the Jobs Support Scheme and programmes under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package,” MOM said.

Non-resident employment, excluding foreign domestic workers, continued to slide in the third quarter. The 72,300 drop was sharper than in the first two quarters of the year.

The non-resident employment declines were seen most strongly in construction, manufacturing, transportation and storage, and administrative and support services.

But the arts, entertainment and recreation sector saw resident employment declines as well.

On the other hand, the public administration and education, health and social services, and information and communications sectors saw increases in resident employment.

There was also a rebound in food and beverage services, reversing two straight quarters of decline.

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Other indicators also point to labour market improvement, with seasonally adjusted unemployment rates still rising in September by 3.6 per cent, but at a slower pace than before, MOM said.

“Residents in their 40s and 50s, and residents with secondary and below education saw relatively larger increases in their unemployment rates compared to other age and education groups,” the report noted.

The number of retrenchments increased in the third quarter, by 9,120, compared with the 8,130 in the second quarter.

“This was due to higher retrenchments in arts, entertainment and recreation, and air transport related industries,” MOM said.

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However, retrenchments declined in other sectors such as financial services, wholesale trade and food and beverage services.

Among resident employees, the incidence of retrenchments among PMETs rose, from 2.7 to 3.7 laid off per 1,000 PMET employees. But the incidence for non-PMETs held steady over the quarter, at 4.3 retrenched per 1,000 non-PMET employees.

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