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Labour Market Report Advance Release First Quarter 2018


  1. Preliminary data in 1Q 2018 showed that unemployment rates declined. Retrenchments were also lower in 1Q 2018 compared to the preceding quarter and compared with a year ago. Total employment declined but by a smaller extent compared to the same period a year ago. The decline was due largely to the continued contraction in Construction and Marine Shipyard, and affected mostly Work Permit Holders.

Main Findings

Unemployment rates declined over the quarter

  1. Since March 2017, unemployment rates have continued to fall. Quarter-on-quarter, the seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rate declined from 2.1% in December 2017 to 2.0% in March 2018, and resident unemployment rate fell from 3.0% to 2.8%. Citizen unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.0%.

Total employment in 1Q 2018 declined by a smaller extent compared to the same period a year ago

  1. Total employment (excluding Foreign Domestic Workers) contracted by 2,100 in 1Q 2018, after a seasonal increase in 4Q 2017. The decline in 1Q 2018 was again due largely to a decrease in Work Permit Holders in Construction and Marine Shipyard. However, the decline was smaller than the same period a year ago, as the contraction in both sectors moderated. Within Services, sectors such as Community, Social & Personal Services, Financial & Insurance, Information & Communications and Transportation & Storage continued to see employment increase.

Retrenchments declined over the quarter and compared to the same period a year ago

  1. The number of retrenchments in 1Q 2018 (2,100) was lower than both the preceding quarter (3,680) and the same period a year ago (4,000). Retrenchments declined over the quarter in Manufacturing, Construction and Services.


  1. Supported by the sustained expansion in economic activity, the labour market improved slightly in 1Q 2018. Job opportunities will continue to be available in the Manufacturing sector as well as the Services sectors, particularly Infocomms & Media, Financial & Insurance, Healthcare, Professional Services, Logistics and Wholesale Trade. However, hiring is expected to remain cautious in sectors such as Construction and Marine Shipyard.
  2. While unemployment rates have declined from a year ago, further improvement will be harder to achieve. Addressing potential job-skills mismatches remains critical, as the economy restructures and the profile of the resident labour force evolves. MOM and Workforce Singapore will keep up efforts to help businesses transform and grow through the Lean Enterprise Development (LED) Scheme and the Capability Transfer Programme (CTP), and support workers to upgrade their skills and secure better employment outcomes through the Adapt and Grow initiative.

For More Information

  1. The report is available on the Ministry of Manpower’s website at