Singapore: Unemployment and Retrenchment in 2Q 2021

A peek into the advanced release of the Labor Market Report by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has offered some insight to employment growth in the second quarter of 2021. As of now, estimates show that there is an increase of resident employment growth. However, it is expanding at a declining growth rate.  

Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) as an impact 

From 16 May to 13 June 2021, Singapore reverted to Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) restrictions due to new clusters of COVID-19 infections. Inevitably, tightened measures have its impact on businesses and declines are reflected in sectors directly affected by the reversion such as the food and beverage as well as retail trade industries. Non-resident employment also continues its downward trend due to on-going travel and border restrictions, causing the total employment excluding Migrant Domestic Workers to decline overall in 2Q 2021.  

Looking forward, MOM permanent secretary Aubeck Kam also mentioned that the reimposition of Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) in late July 2021 might potentially weaken the labor market in the third quarter of 2021 as well. 

Unemployment rates ease up 
Positively, the unemployment rate is observed to be moving in a stable fashion as it eased further in June 2021.  

  • Overall unemployment rate: 2.8% to 2.7% 
  • Resident unemployment rate: 3.8% to 3.7% 
  • Citizen unemployment rate: 4.0% to 3.8% 

From 95,500 unemployed residents in March, the figure has decreased to 86,600 in June. Though the unemployment rate is not back to pre-Covid levels, this stability is a positive sign of recovery. 

Retrenchment rates rose in 2Q 2021 
Retrenchment rates were observed to have increased slightly in 2Q. Based on MOM’s survey, about 2,500 retrenchments happened in 2Q, compared to 2,270 in the previous quarter. The rise was attributed to layoffs in the manufacturing and construction sectors. Services sector still takes a large slice of the pie but has since improved from the previous quarter (1,500 from 1,930). Despite the slight uptick, the retrenchment numbers are still observed to stay within pre-pandemic levels. 

The Labor Market Report 2Q 2021 will be released in mid-September 2021, where a fuller picture of the labor market specific to sector breakdowns will be observed. Stay tuned to our news page as we continue to bring you updates on the labor market across Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Malaysia. 

This article is written with reference to: