Skip to main content

Labour Market Advance Release First Quarter 2022


1. Advance estimates for employment, unemployment, and retrenchments in 1Q 2022 indicate a continuation of the strong recovery momentum from the previous quarter.  Total employment rose, with non-resident employment growth picking up pace and forming the bulk of the increase – mainly work permit holders in the Construction sector – amid the re-opening of our borders.  The resident unemployment situation, which is comparable to pre-COVID, held steady. Retrenchments also declined to a record low.

Main Findings1     

Total employment continued to expand in 1Q 2022 with increases in both resident and non-resident employment

2. In 1Q 2022, total employment (excluding Migrant Domestic Workers, or MDWs) expanded by 41,100. This was slightly lower compared to 4Q 2021 (47,900) but remains a robust pace of growth.  With the progressive lifting of border restrictions, the increase in non-resident employment was significantly greater than that of resident employment, as employers replenished their non-resident workforce2

3. Resident employment trends were mixed across sectors.  Outward-oriented sectors such as Information & Communications and Financial Services continued to see steady resident employment growth.  The former was driven by strong demand for IT and digital solutions, while the latter was in part driven by activities linked to financial services, such as security dealing and payments processing3.  In contrast, resident employment declined in sectors such as Food & Beverages Services, Retail Trade, and Accommodation.  These sectors typically experience employment declines following seasonal hiring for the year-end festive period in the fourth quarter.

4. For non-resident employment, the bulk of the increase was observed for work permit holders in the Construction sector.  In all other sectors, non-resident employment was stable or only saw slight increases.

The unemployment situation held steady in March, after returning to pre-COVID levels4 in February

5. In March 2022, the resident and citizen unemployment rates remained unchanged from February 2022, at 3.0% and 3.2% respectively.  The overall unemployment rate edged up slightly from 2.1% to 2.2%, which is comparable to pre-COVID rates. 

Retrenchments are expected to remain low

6. Retrenchments fell to a record low (1,300 or 0.6 retrenched per 1,000 employees) amid a tight labour market.  Employers attributed most of the retrenchments to ‘reorganisation’ or ‘restructuring’.


7. In the coming months, we expect non-resident employment to continue to recover, given the significant relaxation of border measures from April 2022. This will alleviate some of the tightness in the labour market.  As economic recovery continues to drive demand for workers, we expect the resident unemployment rate to stay low, and resident employment to continue to grow modestly.  Nevertheless, downside risks to economic growth have increased due to the global economic uncertainty arising from the Russia-Ukraine conflict, protracted global supply disruptions driven largely by the conflict and the ongoing pandemic, monetary policy tightening in advanced economies, and continued uncertainty over the trajectory of the pandemic.  These factors could affect business sentiments and profitability, and in turn, labour demand. 

8. We encourage employers and workers to make full use of Government programmes to seize new opportunities amidst the recovery. 

a. The Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) provides salary support for eligible employers to expand local hiring.  It has supported close to 600,000 local hires by 74,000 firms between September 2020 and November 2021. We have extended the JGI to September 2022, covering mature hires who have not been in work for at least six months, persons with disabilities, and ex-offenders.  Eligible employers can receive up to $21,600 per hire over a 12-month period.

b. The SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme (SGUP) offers attachment opportunities for mid-career jobseekers.  From its launch until January 2022, more than 7,200 locals have been placed into attachments, each receiving up to $3,800 in training allowance.  This allows employers to better assess the job-fit of mature jobseekers, while providing them with training and industry experience.

c. Employers can tap on the Support for Job Redesign under Productivity Solutions Grant to improve job quality and attractiveness to workers.  Workforce Singapore (WSG) also offers Job Redesign Reskilling Programmes to support employers in upskilling existing employees to take on enhanced job roles.

d. Jobseekers who require career matching services, including those in short-term COVID roles looking for full-time opportunities, can approach Workforce Singapore (WSG) and NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute.

9. The Labour Market Report 1Q 2022, due for release in mid-June 2022, will provide more details – including the breakdown of resident and non-resident employment5, sectoral breakdowns, number of job vacancies, labour turnover, and re-entry rates among retrenched residents – to give a fuller picture.  For more information on the trends and figures pertaining to total employment change, unemployment rates, and quarterly retrenchments, please refer to the Annex below.

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. 1Q 2022 data are preliminary.
  2. Based on latest data published by the Department, as of December 2021, non-resident employment was still about 18% below its pre-pandemic level in December 2019, while resident employment was 3.7% above. Updated figures comparing March 2022 with December 2019 will be published in the Labour Market Report 1Q 2022.
  3. Source: MTI
  4. Pre-COVID rates are determined by using the average of the seasonally adjusted unemployment figures obtained at quarterly intervals in 2018 and 2019. The quarterly average unemployment rates in 2018 / 2019 were 2.2% at the overall, 3.0% among residents, and 3.2% among citizens.
  5. As per the Department’s usual practice, resident and non-resident quarterly employment change figures will not be released for the Labour Market Advance Release as numbers are preliminary.