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Labour Market Advance Release 3Q 2020


1. Advance estimates released by the Manpower Research and Statistics Department, Ministry of Manpower (MOM) indicate some improvement in the labour market in 3Q 2020.  In line with the phased re-opening of the economy, resident employment rebounded in 3Q 2020.  However, non-resident employment declined more sharply.  As a result, total employment continued to contract, but at a significantly slower pace than the previous quarter.  Unemployment rates and retrenchments also rose, albeit at a slower pace.

Main Findings1

Resident employment grew, while total employment contracted at a significantly slower pace than the previous quarter

2. As the economy gradually re-opened, resident employment grew in 3Q 2020.  Total employment (excl FDWs) continued to contract in 3Q 2020 (-26,900)2, but at a much slower pace compared to the past quarter (-103,800)3. The decline was due to the continued contraction in non-resident employment.

3. The employment cuts were sharpest in Construction and Manufacturing (mainly non-residents in both sectors). In Services, employment growth had picked up, mainly in Community, Social & Personal Services (e.g. Healthcare and Public Administration), and Food & Beverage Services.

While unemployment rates continued to rise in September 2020, the pace of increase has slowed

4. Unemployment rates continued to rise in September 2020 (overall: 3.6%; resident: 4.7%; citizen: 4.9%), compared to August 2020 (overall: 3.4%; resident: 4.6%; citizen: 4.7%).  However, the pace of increase was slower in September (0.1% to 0.2%-point increase) compared to previous months (0.3% to 0.4%-point increase).  In September 2020, there were 112,500 unemployed residents, of which 97,700 were citizens.

Retrenchments were slightly higher in 3Q 2020

5. The number of retrenchments in 3Q 2020 (9,100) is expected to be slightly above 2Q 2020 (8,130), reflecting a smaller rise in retrenchments this quarter compared to the previous quarter.  The number of retrenchments in 3Q 2020 was higher than those recorded during the peak of previous recessions, except the Global Financial Crisis (1Q 2009: 12,760). 

6. Retrenchments are expected to rise over the quarter in Manufacturing and Services sectors, and primarily in Arts, Entertainment & Recreation and Air Transport, which continues to be affected by COVID-19 and the need for safe management measures. On the other hand, Construction is likely to see a decline in retrenchments with the gradual resumption of activities after the Circuit Breaker.


7. Resident employment has rebounded with phased re-opening of our economy, in particular with the resumption of business activities in the Services sector.  However, weakness in the labour market is likely to persist as companies and workers continue to operate in an uncertain economic environment.  Conditions for travel-related sectors continue to remain challenging.

8. The National Wages Council has issued its Supplementary Guidelines on 16 October 2020 to encourage employers and employees to work closely together to minimise retrenchments. Employers who have to retrench employees as a last resort should adhere to the updated Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment, and do so in a responsible and sensitive manner. The Taskforce for Responsible Retrenchment and Employment Facilitation, comprising representatives from the MOM, Workforce Singapore (WSG), National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (NTUC’s e2i), continues to proactively reach out to the affected workers and offer them employment assistance. This includes providing information kits on career resources, briefings on available employment facilitation and career advisory and one-on-one coaching from WSG or NTUC-e2i’s career coaches to help the affected workers transit to new opportunities. For more information on WSG’s programmes and career advisory and matching services, jobseekers are encouraged to visit or call WSG’s hotline at 6883 5885.

9. To support local jobseekers, the National Jobs Council has curated over 117,500 jobs and skills opportunities under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package as at end-August.  Over the same period, 33,100 locals have been placed into diverse jobs and skills opportunities since April 2020.  Career conversion programmes, company-hosted traineeships and attachments as well as training programmes have provided multiple pathways for jobseekers to enter into new careers or sectors, by enabling jobseekers to acquire industry-relevant skills, networks and experience.  The Government has set aside $1 billion for the Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) to enable firms that continue to do well, such as firms in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Biomedical Sciences and Financial Services, to bring forward their hiring plans and create more good jobs for locals. For more information on the Job Growth Incentive, please visit

10. There remains significant uncertainty over the length and severity of the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as the global economy’s trajectory of recovery. The Government and our tripartite partners are fully committed towards walking the journey with our businesses and jobseekers, so that we can emerge stronger from the crisis.

For Information

11. The report is available online on the Ministry of Manpower’s Research and Statistics Department website at



  1. 3Q 2020 data are preliminary.
  2. As estimates on employment change are derived primarily using data available in the months of July and August, they are subject to revisions.
  3. 2019 and 2020 data are revised to reflect updates in pre-approved Letter of Consent (PLOC) numbers.