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Labour Market Advance Release Third Quarter 2021


1.Advance estimates showed that the labour market performed better in 3Q 2021 compared to 2Q 2021.Total employment declined at a considerably slower pace in 3Q 2021, as resident employment grew more quickly, particularly in outward-oriented industries.Non-resident employment continued to decline amidst ongoing border restrictions.Unemployment rates declined for the second consecutive month in September 2021, following a brief uptick in July 2021.The number of retrenchments in 3Q 2021 is expected to fall as well.

Main Findings1     

The total employment decline was gentler in 3Q 2021, due to substantial resident employment expansion

2. The total employment (excl. Migrant Domestic Workers or MDWs) decline in 3Q 2021 (-3,400) was considerably gentler than in 2Q 2021 (-16,300) as resident employment grew more quickly.However, non-resident employment continued to decline at a pace similar to 2Q 2021.

3. Total employment growth remained K-shaped in 3Q 2021.Outward-oriented sectors such as Professional Services, Information & Communications, and Financial Services continued to see resident employment expansion.On the other hand, Food & Beverages Services, Retail Trade, and Accommodation trimmed their resident workforce.This reflected ongoing COVID-19 border restrictions and safe management measures imposed in the third quarter.Non-resident employment continued to contract across most sectors in 3Q 2021.

Unemployment rates declined for the second consecutive month, after a brief uptick in July 2021

4. Since unemployment rates peaked a year ago in September 20202, they had continued to ease steadily, though they remained elevated compared to pre-pandemic rates.In September 2021, a 0.1%-point decline was observed for overall (from 2.7% to 2.6%), resident (from 3.6% to 3.5%), and citizen (from 3.8% to 3.7%).

Retrenchments are expected to decline in 3Q 2021

5. Retrenchments are expected to remain low in 3Q 2021 (2,000), at less than a quarter of the figure recorded during the peak amidst the COVID-19 pandemic3.This was a decline from the 2,340 retrenchments seen in the previous quarter.Consequently, we expect the incidence of retrenchment in 3Q 2021 (1.1 retrenched per 1,000 employees) to fall from the 1.3 registered in 2Q 2021.


6. While the labour market continued to improve in 3Q 2021, advance estimates showed that recovery remained uneven across sectors.With Singapore’s recent extension of its “Stabilisation Phase” till end-November 2021, we expect the mixed employment trends observed in 3Q 2021 to continue into the next quarter.As these extended COVID-19 measures include group size curbs on dine-in and other social activities, sectors such as Food & Beverages Services and Retail Trade will continue to be impacted.On the other hand, the expansion of the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) and travel-related activities may give an uplift to industries such as Accommodation and Air Transport Services.

7. Through the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package, the Government and tripartite partners will support employers and workers to emerge stronger by adapting to the changing environment, and accelerating the pace of transformation.

  1. The Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) was recently extended to end-March 2022. The JGI provides salary support for employers to expand local hiring, with higher support for workers aged 40 and above, persons with disabilities, and ex-offenders.From September 2020 to May 2021, close to 400,000 locals have been hired by 58,000 businesses.


  2. Employers can tap on Career Conversion Programmes to hire and train mid-career workers who may not have the full set of skills required for the job.Support is available for up to 90% of training and salary costs.


  3. The SGUnited Traineeships and Mid-Career Pathways programmes continue to be available.Jobseekers can make use of these programmes to acquire industry-relevant skills and put themselves in a stronger position to seize new opportunities in the future.

8. For businesses more impacted by the tighter safe management measures, we encourage employers to make use of the downtime to redesign jobs and reskill their employees to take on new job roles.Employers can tap on the Support for Job Redesign under the Productivity Solutions Grant, which provides funding support of up to 80% for job redesign consultancy services, capped at $30,000 per enterprise, till end-March 2022.

9. The Labour Market Report 3Q 2021, to be released in mid-December 2021, will provide more details, such as resident and non-resident employment, sectoral breakdowns, number of job vacancies, labour turnover, and re-entry rates among retrenched residents.This will give us a fuller picture of the labour market situation in 3Q 2021.

For More Information

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

11. For data requests and queries pertaining to the report, please reach out to the Ministry of Manpower’s Research and Statistics Department at



  1. 3Q 2021 data are preliminary.
  2. In September 2020, unemployment rates were 3.5%, 4.8%, and 4.9% for overall, resident, and citizen respectively.
  3. In 3Q 2020, the number of retrenchments was 9,120 – the highest recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic.