Labour Market Advance Release 2022
1. Advance estimates show that in 4Q 2022, total employment expanded for the fifth consecutive quarter, and unemployment rates remained low, below pre-pandemic levels. While the number of retrenchments rose from previous quarters’ lows, it remained comparable to pre-pandemic levels. For the whole of 2022, the labour market improved significantly compared to 2021. Unemployment rates have returned to pre-pandemic levels, and total employment surpassed the level in 2019. The number of retrenchments stayed low, despite increasing in 4Q 2022.
Total employment expanded, with increases seen for both residents and non-residents
2. Total employment (excluding Migrant Domestic Workers) rose for the fifth consecutive quarter, expanding by 47,400 in 4Q 2022. While non-resident employment growth still contributed to most of the increase, it has moderated from the highs of the last two quarters, as the non-resident employment level approaches that of 2019.2 The increase in non-resident employment in 4Q 2022 was concentrated in Construction. Resident employment picked up over the quarter, amid hiring for year-end festivities in consumer-facing sectors such as Food & Beverage Services and Retail Trade.
3. After the substantial decline during the peak of the pandemic in 2020, total employment grew by an unprecedented 231,700 in 2022, and surpassed its pre-pandemic level by 3.0%. This was largely driven by non-residents, following the relaxation of border controls in April 2022 and the backfilling of vacancies, especially in sectors such as Construction that are more reliant on foreign manpower. Resident employment also continued to grow, albeit at a slower pace than in 2021 as resident unemployment rates improved.
Unemployment rates remained low
4. Unemployment rates remained low in December 2022 (overall: 2.0%; resident: 2.8%; citizen: 3.0%), below pre-pandemic levels.3
5. The tight labour market and economic recovery in 2022 has led to continued improvements in the unemployment situation, to its pre-pandemic steady state. The annual average unemployment rates were significantly lower in 2022 compared to 2021 (overall: 2.1% vs. 2.7%; resident: 2.9% vs. 3.5%; citizen: 3.0% vs. 3.7%).
Retrenchments rose over the quarter but remained comparable to pre-pandemic levels
6. The number of retrenchments rose in 4Q 2022 to 3,000 from the lows of the previous three quarters (800 – 1,300). The increase mainly reflected higher retrenchments in Electronics (within Manufacturing), and Information Technology and Wholesale Trade (within Services). Retrenchments in other sectors were stable. Business reorganisation or restructuring was the top reason for retrenchments in 4Q 2022.
7. Despite the recent rise, the number of retrenchments in 4Q 2022 remained within the quarterly range observed in 2019.4 MOM is closely monitoring the situation amid the weakening global economic outlook.
8. The total number of retrenchments for the whole of 2022 (6,450) was lower than 2021 (8,020) and pre-pandemic levels.5
9. Although the labour market saw robust growth in 2022 and labour demand remains strong, the uncertain global economic environment, higher inflation, as well as geopolitical tensions will weigh on the labour market going forward. While hiring sentiments remain positive in the coming months based on company polls, the projected slowdown in economic growth in 2023 would likely ease the momentum of labour market improvements. With the recent uptick in retrenchments, unemployment rates could also trend higher.
10. To remain competitive and resilient amidst these global developments, we encourage employers and workers to make full use of Government programmes to adapt and accelerate the pace of transformation. In turn, this will enable us to develop our workers and build a more competitive and resilient workforce.
a. Employers can refer to the Jobs Transformation Maps (JTM) to prepare their businesses and workers for future jobs and skills in their sector. MOM and Enterprise Singapore recently launched the JTM for the Food Manufacturing sector in December 2022. Eight other JTMs are available on Workforce Singapore's (WSG’s) website6 and nine more will be progressively completed. The JTMs identify the key technologies that are driving change, the impact on individual job roles, as well as the pathways for employers to transform jobs and equip workers with their requisite skills for new and evolving job roles.
b. Employers can tap on the Support for Job Redesign under Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG-JR), to make their jobs more productive and attractive to jobseekers. WSG also offers Career Conversion Programmes (CCPs) to support employers in re-skilling and upskilling their existing employees to take on enhanced job roles, and training mid-career workers to take on new roles.
c. Per the National Wages Council’s 2022/2023 guidelines, employers should adopt the Flexible Wage System so that they are in a better position to deal with any headwinds, even as they reward employees with wage increases or variable payments in line with their firms’ recovery and performance over the past year.
11. The Labour Market Report 2022, due for release in mid-March 2023, will provide a comprehensive assessment and more details of the labour market situation in 4Q 2022 and the full year of 2022. This will include the breakdown of resident and non-resident employment7, sectoral breakdowns, number of job vacancies, labour turnover, and re-entry rates among retrenched residents.
For More Information
12. The report is available online on the Ministry of Manpower’s Research and Statistics Department website at stats.mom.gov.sg/.
13. For data requests and queries pertaining to the report, please reach out to the Ministry of Manpower’s Research and Statistics Department at email@example.com.