According to a labor report released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the number of retrenchments in Singapore in Q2 has risen as compared to Q1.
Previously in Q1, there were 2270 layoffs. In Q2, there were 2340 layoffs. This is discounting “resignations”. Still, the number of layoffs is still within the range of pre-pandemic levels, as tracked within the quarters in 2018 and 2019.
However, the changes in retrenchment level are different across various sectors, and alternate forms of stopping work have been employed, resulting in the current situation; that is, a decrease in retrenchment in the F&B sector and the increase in overall retrenchment attributed more to manufacturing and construction instead.
For instance, more employees in sectors such as F&B, where they face uncertainty and COVID-19 restrictions in terms of dining in rules, are placed on short work-weeks or temporary layoffs instead. This does not strictly fall under retrenchment or unemployment, but employees are still facing issues such as reduced pay and underemployment nonetheless.
Unemployment rate meanwhile rose for workers above 40, suggesting that older workers are having trouble retaining their jobs, and seeking new ones too. The overall unemployment rate has stopped at 2.7% as of June.
On the other hand, the ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons has risen above 1 for the first time since 2019 — meaning, Singapore currently has a job surplus. The ratio of 1.63 suggests that for every 100 persons, there are 163 job vacancies available.
According to MOM, the construction and manufacturing sector has a remarkable increase in the number of job vacancies, in particular for jobs such as production and transport operators, cleaners and laborers. In other industries, there is a high vacancy rate for professionals, managers, executives and technicians. Sectors such as F&B, travel and retail are recovering, but at a much slower rate due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Still, despite the positive news of increased job openings, it has to be said that unemployment is not an easy problem to solve on the individual level; it takes time for an individual to seek new jobs that match their skills and experience, to transition into a new job successfully and all. Not to mention that even while an individual is employed, they may be at risk of being underemployed and underpaid, where their skills and experience are not fully utilized by their job, all while taking a cut from their previous pay in order to successfully find employment.