Skip to main content

Labour Market Advance Release - First Quarter 2023


1. Advance estimates showed that the labour market continued to expand in 1Q 2023, albeit at a more moderated pace compared to the previous quarter. While retrenchments rose for the third consecutive quarter, unemployment rates stayed low as hiring demand remained robust.

Main Findings1

Total employment expanded, though the pace of growth has eased 

2. Total employment (excluding Migrant Domestic Workers) grew by 34,500 in 1Q 2023, marking the sixth consecutive quarter of expansion. However, both resident and non-resident employment growth have moderated. As of March 2023, resident employment continued to surpass its pre-pandemic level2, and non-resident employment grew above its pre-pandemic level for the first time.

3. With low resident unemployment, most of the employment growth in 1Q 2023 came from non-residents, primarily in Construction. Resident employment saw the largest gains in Community, Social & Personal Services (mainly in Public Administration & Education) and Financial Services. Resident employment was broadly unchanged in sectors such as Information & Communications, Food & Beverage Services and Manufacturing. It declined slightly in Wholesale Trade and Retail Trade.

Retrenchments continued to increase

4. The number of retrenchments continued to rise in 1Q 2023 (4,000) to levels last seen in 2016 and 2017.3 The increase was seen in Manufacturing, Construction and Services. The top reasons for retrenchments in 1Q 2023 were business reorganisation or restructuring and downturn in the industry.

5. Nonetheless, hiring sentiments remained buoyant, with a majority (65%) of polled firms indicating their intention to increase headcount in the next three months. More firms also indicated they intend to raise the wages of their employees.

Unemployment rates remained low

6. Notwithstanding the uptick in retrenchments, unemployment rates remained low in March 2023 (overall: 1.8%, residents: 2.5%, and citizens: 2.7%). There were 61,500 unemployed residents in March 2023, of which 54,900 were citizens. The share of citizens among unemployed residents is comparable with that of the labour force.


7. MTI’s advance GDP estimates released earlier this month showed that global economic headwinds have contributed towards a slowdown in Singapore’s economy, which will weigh on labour demand going forward, particularly for outward-oriented sectors. Employment growth is likely to ease and be uneven across sectors.

8. Amidst greater economic uncertainty, we encourage employers and workers to be proactive in making full use of Government programmes to adapt to the changing environment. We encourage employers to invest in business transformation, in order to ensure that their businesses continue to be competitive, and their workers productive.

a. Employers can refer to the Jobs Transformation Maps (JTM) to prepare their businesses and workers for future jobs and skills in their sectors. These 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 requisite skills for new and evolving job roles. 10 JTMs are available on Workforce Singapore's (WSG’s) website and eight more will be progressively completed.

b. Employers can also tap into WSG’s Career Conversion Programmes to hire and train mid-career workers for new roles, allowing employers to better assess the job fit for mature jobseekers, while providing them with training and industry experience. Furthermore, the enhanced Enabling Employment Credit and new Uplifting Employment Credit provide wage offsets to employers who hire persons with disabilities and ex-offenders respectively.

c. Jobseekers who require career matching services can approach WSG and NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute, including through any of the 24 SGUnited Jobs & Skills Centres across the country.

9. The Labour Market Report First Quarter 2023, due for release in mid-June 2023, will provide a comprehensive assessment and more details of the labour market situation in 1Q 2023. This will include the breakdown of resident and non-resident employment4, sectoral breakdowns, number of job vacancies, labour turnover, and re-entry rates among retrenched residents. For more information on the trends for total employment change, unemployment rates, and 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 2023 data are preliminary.
  2. Refers to December 2019.
  3. In 2016/2017, quarterly retrenchments ranged from 3,400 to 5,440.
  4. As per MOM’s usual practice, we will not publish resident and non-resident quarterly employment change figures in the Labour Market Advance Release, since these numbers are only preliminary.