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Labour Market Report Third Quarter 2019


1 In 3Q 2019, the labour market situation was mixed. Employment increased, retrenchments stayed low and re-entry rates improved. However, unemployment and long-term unemployment rates inched up. This may have been a result of hiring caution as can be seen in the smaller number of vacancies. Reflecting the shift in mix of vacancies, there remain openings for PMET roles in Community, Social & Personal Services, Financial & Insurance Services, Professional Services and Information & Communications. 

Main Findings

Total employment growth in the third quarter of 2019 was higher than in the previous quarter and a year ago                                        

2 Total employment (excluding foreign domestic workers) grew by 21,7001, higher than the previous quarter (6,200) and a year ago (16,700). The bulk of total employment growth came from the Services sector, led by Modern Services, Community, Social & Personal Services, and Administrative & Support Services.

The number of retrenchments remained low and the six-month re-entry rate for retrenched residents improved

3 Retrenchments in 3Q 2019 (2,4302) were slightly higher than in the previous quarter (2,320), but remained lower than a year ago (2,860). The top reason cited for retrenchments was business restructuring and reorganisation.

4 Comparing 12-month periods, retrenchments from October 2018 to September 2019 was 10,490.  This is significantly lower than the preceding 12-month periods i.e. Oct 2017 to Sep 2018 (11,900), and Oct 2016 to Sep 2017 (16,480).

5 The six-month re-entry rate into employment among retrenched residents in 3Q 2019 (65%) was higher than the previous quarter (60%) and a year ago (62%). The improvement was broad-based across most age, education and occupational groups (except for production & related workers).

Unemployment rates inched up, as well as the long-term unemployment rate for residents                      

6 Despite the significant increase in employment, the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rates inched up over the quarter in September 2019. This was seen at the overall level (from 2.2% to 2.3%), as well as among residents (from 3.1% to 3.2%) and citizens (from 3.2% to 3.3%). The seasonally-adjusted resident long-term unemployment rate also edged up slightly from 0.6% in June 2019 to 0.7% in September 2019.

Ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons declined

7 The seasonally-adjusted number of job vacancies declined from 47,700 in June 2019 to 42,200 in September 2019.

8 Coupled with the slight increase in the number of unemployed persons, the seasonally-adjusted ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons declined from 0.94 in June 2019 to 0.83 in September 2019. Job vacancies continue to be available, particularly in Services sectors such as Community, Social & Personal Services, Financial & Insurance Services, Professional Services and Information & Communications.


9 The Singapore economy picked up slightly in 3Q 2019, although global economic uncertainties remain. Against this backdrop, employers continue to hire and employment expanded significantly in the third quarter of 2019. The number of retrenchments remained low and those who were retrenched found it easier to re-enter into a new job. Retrenchments in the last 12 months (10,490) were lower than in the two preceding 12-month.3 On the other hand, unemployment and long-term unemployment rates have inched up over the same quarter. While job vacancies have fallen, job opportunities remain available, particularly for PMETs in Services sectors. This suggests that greater effort will be needed to help unemployed jobseekers overcome skills mismatches with the remaining vacancies.

10 To help those who are unemployed to reskill for new jobs, WSG and NTUC-Employment and Employability Institute (NTUC’s e2i) are increasing the capacity of Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs) and Place-and-Train Programmes under the A&G initiative. WSG offers over 100 PCPs in more than 30 sectors, with training and salary support provided, including higher support for jobseekers aged 40 and above. Jobseekers can also consider taking up Attach-and-Train PCPs, which train workers ahead of hiring demand, in selected sectors with strong growth potential. Jobseekers who need employment assistance can visit WSG’s Careers Connect and NTUC-e2i’s career centres.

11 We also encourage employers to press on with business transformation, and tap on A&G programmes such as the Career Support Programme (CSP) and Career Trial (CT) to access a wider pool of jobseekers to meet their manpower needs. CSP provides salary support for employers who hire long-term unemployed jobseekers or mature retrenched jobseekers in PMET jobs. CT offers an opportunity for employers and jobseekers to try out each other and assess job fit, before making the hiring decision. During the trial, which can be up to three months, jobseekers receive a training allowance from WSG.

For More Information

12 The “Labour Market Report, Third Quarter 2019” is released by the Manpower Research and Statistics Department, Ministry of Manpower. The report and technical notes on the various indicators are available at http://stats.mom.gov.sg/Pages/Home.aspx.


  1. This was revised downwards from the preliminary estimate of 22,400 reported in the Labour Market Advance Release (LMAR) 3Q 2019.
  2. This was revised downwards from the preliminary estimate of 2,900 reported in the LMAR 3Q 2019.
  3. There were 11,900 retrenchments in the period October 2017 to September 2018, and 16,480 in the period October 2016 to September 2017.