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Labour Market Report First Quarter 2019



1. Singapore’s labour market held up in 1Q 2019, even though the economy slowed. Total employment continued to grow, and at a faster pace than in 1Q 2018. Overall and resident unemployment rates held steady, although the citizen unemployment rate inched up. The resident long-term unemployment rate declined. There continued to be more job vacancies than job seekers; however, the tightness may ease as the number of job vacancies declined and retrenchments rose compared to the previous quarter.

Main Findings

Total employment continued to grow in 1Q 2019

2. Total employment (excluding Foreign Domestic Workers (FDW)) grew by 10,7001 in 1Q 2019. This was higher than the growth in 1Q 2018 (400), but lower than that in 4Q 2018 (14,700) due to seasonal factors. Employment growth was supported by Services sectors such as Community, Social & Personal Services, Professional Services, Administrative & Support Services, Financial Services, Transportation & Storage, and Information & Communications.

Overall and resident unemployment rates held steady; citizen unemployment rate inched up

3. After inching up in the previous quarter, the seasonally adjusted overall (2.2%) and resident (3.0%) unemployment rates held steady in March 2019 as compared to December 2018. However, the citizen unemployment rate rose slightly (from 3.1% in December 2018 to 3.2% in March 2019).

Resident long-term unemployment rate declined

4. The seasonally adjusted resident long-term unemployment rate (LTUR) edged down from 0.8% in December 2018 to 0.7% in March 2019. The LTUR fell or held steady for all age groups, except for residents aged below 30. Among job leavers aged below 30, there was an increase in the proportion who left due to dissatisfaction with their previous jobs. Such workers were more likely to invest more time to search for a better job match.

More retrenchments, but re-entry rate among retrenched residents also rose

5. More workers were retrenched in 1Q 2019 (3,2302) compared to the previous quarter (2,510) and a year ago (2,320). The top reason cited for retrenchments was business restructuring and reorganisation. At the same time, the six-month re-entry rate among retrenched residents rose for the second consecutive quarter, from 64% in 4Q 2018 to 66% in 1Q 2019.

Job vacancies declined

6. The seasonally adjusted number of job vacancies declined from 62,300 in December 2018 to 57,100 in March 2019, the first decline after 7 consecutive quarters of increase. However, the number of vacancies remained higher than a year ago (53,900). There also continued to be more vacancies than job seekers, although the ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons dipped from 1.10 in December 2018 to 1.08 in March 2019.


7. The labour market held up in 1Q 2019. Given increasing economic headwinds, MOM and Workforce Singapore (WSG) will remain vigilant and work closely with our tripartite partners to help Singaporeans secure good jobs through the Adapt & Grow Initiative. Workers are encouraged to upskill and reskill by tapping on the SkillsFuture initiative, so as to build career resilience and improve career mobility as the economy and firms continue to restructure.

8. MOM and WSG will support jobseekers who are prepared to explore new opportunities. For career assistance, jobseekers can visit or approach WSG’s Careers Connect and NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (NTUC’s e2i), which offer various programmes and Career Matching Services under the Adapt and Grow initiative.

9. MOM and WSG also offer support to businesses to hire Singaporeans through the Adapt & Grow Initiative, and to transform and improve job quality through the Lean Enterprise Development Scheme and Capability Transfer Programme.


  1. Revised downwards from the preliminary estimate of 12,000 reported in the Labour Market Advance Release (LMAR) 1Q 2019.
  2. Revised upwards from the preliminary estimate of 2,500 reported in the LMAR 1Q 2019.