Total employment falls by 15,700 in Q2, driven by departure of non-resident workers, says Singapore’s MOM

Total employment in Singapore fell by 15,700 in the second quarter of this year. — AFP pic
Total employment in Singapore fell by 15,700 in the second quarter of this year. — AFP pic

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SINGAPORE, July 30 一 Total employment in Singapore fell by 15,700 in the second quarter of this year, as various sectors were affected by tightened restrictions when Singapore went into Phase 2 (heightened alert) from May 16 to June 13. 

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said in its advance labour market report 一 released on Friday (July 30) 一 that this decline was mainly borne by non-resident workers. 

“Non-resident employment declined more sharply across most sectors, as departing workers were not replaced due to border restrictions imposed for public health reasons,” said MOM.

During a press conference on Friday (July 30), Manpower Minister Tan See Leng added that travel restrictions as well as domestic safe distancing measures affecting the food and beverage and retail sector contributed to the overall net decline.  

Resident employment grew, but at a slower pace than the first quarter, as employment declined in the food and beverage services and retail trade sectors. 

The growth in resident employment was mainly driven by outward-oriented sectors such as information and communications and professional services. 

It also grew in the community, social and personal services sector, mainly in the healthcare and social work segment. 

Ang Boon Heng, director of manpower research and statistics at MOM, said during a media briefing on the labour market report that this increase in employment in healthcare is a result of ongoing demand for more labour as part of Singapore’s response to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The total number of employed residents, excluding foreign domestic workers, stood at 3,352,400 in June 2021, lower than the 3,368,000 in March 2021. 

Tan also said that more challenges are to be expected in the months ahead given that Singapore has again returned to Phase 2 (heightened alert). 

“So we can expect therefore that restrictions on the inflow of migrant workers will continue as a result of public health considerations, and also the rise in the Delta variant cases globally. This is expected to weigh on the pace and evenness of recovery for the labour market,” he added. 

MOM’s permanent secretary Aubeck Kam said a similar overall labour market trend should be expected in the third quarter, given that no dining-in is allowed and similar limitations on social gathering have been re-imposed. 

“Phase 2 (heightened alert) occurred at the tail end of the second quarter. Whereas for the third quarter, the Phase 2 (heightened alert) is happening really at the first part. So I think the uncertainty really is how the overall Covid posture plays out in the rest of the months of the quarter,” he said during a media briefing on the labour market report.

The tightened restrictions during the first Phase 2 (heightened alert), however, had little effect on unemployment and retrenchment during the second quarter. 

Unemployment rate continued easing, with the resident unemployment rate decreasing from 3.8 per cent in the previous quarter to 3.7 per cent. 

Data from MOM showed that the number of unemployed residents fell from 95,500 in March 2021 to 86,600 in June 2021.

“Since peaking in Sept 2020, unemployment rates have been falling steadily, though they are not back to pre-pandemic levels,” said MOM in its report. 

Retrenchments rose slightly to 2,500 in the second quarter, compared with 2,270 in the first quarter, though MOM expects it to remain low and comparable with pre-pandemic levels. 

It added that there were no notable increases in retrenchment in sectors directly impacted by tighter restrictions, such as food and beverage services. — TODAY

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