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Labour Market Report Advance Release 3Q 2018


  1. The labour market showed further signs of improvement in 3Q 2018, based on preliminary data.  Total employment growth in 3Q 2018 more than doubled that in the preceding quarter while the resident unemployment rate held steady.  Retrenchments in 3Q 2018 were lower than the preceding quarter and the same period a year ago.

    Main Findings

    Total employment growth in 3Q 2018 was more than double that of the previous quarter
  2. The pace of hiring picked up.1 This resulted in total employment (excluding Foreign Domestic Workers) growth of 15,200, more than double that observed in the previous quarter (6,500).  The higher employment growth in 3Q 2018 was broad based.  Increases were observed in Manufacturing after fifteen consecutive quarters of decline. There were also gains in Services, such as in Professional Services, Information & Communications, Community, Social & Personal Services and Financial & Insurance.  Employment in Construction continued to decline in 3Q 2018,  albeit at a slower pace.2

    Resident and citizen unemployment rates held steady over the quarter
  3. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rates among residents (2.9%) and citizens (3.0%) were unchanged from June 2018 to September 2018, while the overall rate rose slightly (from 2.0% to 2.1%).  All rates remained at or below those in September last year (overall: 2.1%, resident: 3.1%, citizen: 3.2%), but were higher than the two-year lows observed in March this year.  Given the growth in employment, the slightly elevated unemployment rates reflected the continued inflow of job seekers into the labour market.

    The number of retrenchments was lower than the second quarter of 2018
  4. The number of retrenchments in 3Q 2018 (2,500) was lower than the preceding quarter (3,030) and the same period a year ago (3,400).  With restructuring, retrenchments can be expected to fluctuate from quarter to quarter.  However, we note that overall, for the first three quarters of 2018, retrenchments were lower than the corresponding periods in the preceding two years.


  5. Overall, preliminary data suggests that the labour market continued to improve in 3Q 2018. Total employment growth more than doubled this quarter while unemployment and retrenchments remained lower than in the same period a year ago.  Job opportunities continue to be available in various sectors, such as in Infocommunications & Media, Finance & Insurance, Healthcare, Professional Services, Wholesale Trade, and Built Environment.  However, as the labour market begins to tighten, employers may face greater challenges filling vacancies.

  6. Given the ongoing economic restructuring and the changing demand for jobs and skills, it is important that workers and businesses stay agile and responsive to market demands.  MOM and Workforce Singapore will continue to work closely with tripartite partners to support and match Singaporeans to good jobs and careers via the Adapt and Grow initiative.  Businesses, too, are encouraged to transform and improve job quality, with support available through the Lean Enterprise Development Scheme and the Capability Transfer Programme.

    For More Information

  7. The report is available online on the Ministry of Manpower’s statistics website at


  1. A net weighted balance of +10% of firms in services expected to increase hiring in the third quarter of 2018. This was broad-based across services industries. Source: Business Expectations (Services Sector), Third Quarter 2018, Department of Statistics, MTI.
  2. Construction GDP contracted by 3.1% on a year-on-year basis in 3Q 2018, extending the 4.2% decline in the previous quarter. The sector was weighed down by weakness in public sector construction activities. Source: MTI’s Advance Estimates of GDP, 12 October 2018.