Written Answer by Minister for Manpower Mrs Josephine Teo on Employment Trends, Jobs Growth and Retrenchments
NOTICE PAPER NO. 259 OF 2021 FOR THE SITTING ON 24 FEBRUARY 2021
WRITTEN ANSWER TO QUESTION NO. 702 FOR ORAL ANSWER (NOT ANSWERED BY END OF QUESTION TIME)
MP: Mr Liang Eng Hwa
To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) what are the latest resident and non-resident employment trends; (b) what are the areas of jobs growth and decline; and (c) what is the expected severity of retrenchments in coming months.
1. Total employment declined by 172,200 in 2020. This reflected the significant impact of COVID-19 on the labour market. There were different outcomes for resident and non-resident employment. Resident employment grew modestly by 9,300 in 2020 as the economy recovered and on the back of strong support for local hiring. On the other hand, non-resident employment fell in all four quarters of 2020, and contracted by around 181,500, or 16% over the whole year. This means that all of the employment contraction was accounted for by the reduction in foreign employment.
2. The sectors with the largest cumulative increase in employment were Public Administration and Education, and growth sectors such as Infocommunications & Technology, Financial Services, and Health & Social Services.
3. Over the same period, the sectors that experienced the most significant cumulative decline in total employment were those more affected by COVID-19, such as F&B Services, Community, Social & Personal Services, as well as Arts, Entertainment and Recreation.
4. In line with the broad improvement in the job market, the number of retrenchments in 4Q 2020 is expected to be about 6,100. This is lower than the 9,120 retrenchments in 3Q 2020, and is the first decline after five consecutive quarters of increase. For the full year, the total number of retrenchments is expected to reach 26,570, higher than the 10,690 in 2019. However, if we take into account the growing size of the workforce, the incidence of retrenchment for 2020, at 13 retrenched per 1,000 employees, remained significantly lower compared to past recessionary years.
5. It remains to be seen if the decline in quarterly retrenchments will be sustained in 2021. For example, the Air Transport sector will continue to be affected due to the on-going travel restrictions and could face more retrenchments.
6. This year, we remain focused on matching local jobseekers to job opportunities or helping them to reskill for new careers. With the support of the tripartite partners, nearly 76,000 locals have been placed into jobs and skills opportunities under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package as at end-2020. To give a greater boost to hiring, the Government has extended the Jobs Growth Incentive by seven months to September 2021. Employers who hire mature workers, persons with disabilities and ex-offenders will receive higher support.
7. I urge employers to continue tapping on Government support to hire and invest in the training of local workers. I also encourage our jobseekers to keep an open mind to new opportunities, and be prepared to pick up new skills to pivot to new careers that offer better long-term prospects.