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Labour Market Report Third Quarter 2023


1. The labour market expanded in 3Q 2023 despite the weaker economic outlook. Total employment increased for the eighth consecutive quarter (23,600) in 3Q 2023, with increases in both resident and non-resident employment. The bulk of the resident employment increase was in growth sectors. The cooling labour demand was reflected instead in the continued decline in job vacancies, which fell from 87,900 in June 2023 to 78,400 in September 2023. Nevertheless, the labour market remained tight with the ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons at 1.58 in September 2023.

2. Retrenchments rose from 3,200 in the previous quarter to 4,110 in 3Q 2023 as more firms undertook reorganisation or restructuring activities or faced business and cost concerns. Amidst continued labour market tightness, re-entry into employment among retrenched residents improved from 59.4% in 2Q 2023 to 65.3% in 3Q 2023 and unemployment rates stayed low. However, the rise in resident long-term unemployment rate from the eight-year low of 0.5% in June 2023 to 0.7% in September 2023 – which is comparable to the pre-COVID average of 0.7% – bears close monitoring.

3. Economic headwinds will continue to weigh on the labour market going forward. The Government and tripartite partners will continue to support employers and workers to press on with business transformation and upskilling.

Main Findings1

Total employment grew at a moderate pace

4. Total employment (excluding Migrant Domestic Workers) expanded by 23,600 in 3Q 2023, a smaller increase than in 2Q 2023 (24,300).

5. Resident employment grew by 2,800, a reversal of the contraction observed in 2Q 2023 (-1,200). The increase in resident employment in 3Q 2023 was mainly in growth sectors including Health & Social Services, Financial & Insurance Services and Professional Services.

6. Non-resident employment continued to grow (20,800), although at a slower pace compared to past quarters. The increase in non-resident employment growth was mainly from Construction, Administrative & Support Services and Food & Beverage Services.The Construction sector, consisting primarily of WP and other work pass (WP+) holders, has seen slowing growth since 3Q 2022. This was also the smallest growth in non-resident employment observed since 4Q 2021.

Unemployment rates remained low

7. Unemployment rates remained low in October 2023 (overall: 1.9%; resident: 2.7%; citizen: 2.9%). The resident long-term unemployment rate rose from 0.5% in June 2023 to 0.7% in September 2023, which is comparable to the pre-COVID average rate.

Retrenchments increased

8. Retrenchments increased from 3,200 to 4,110, with the majority of the increase attributed to Wholesale Trade where retrenchments rose from 480 to 1,270. The number of retrenchments in other remaining sectors remained broadly stable. Retrenchments were primarily due to reorganisation or restructuring (61.9%), but more retrenching firms also indicated business and cost concerns as reasons for retrenchments compared to the previous quarter.

Re-entry rate among retrenched residents improved

9. The resident re-entry rates improved from 59.4% in 2Q 2023 to 65.3% in 3Q 2023. This was also higher than a year ago at 64.8% (3Q 2022) and within the range of 60.0% to 67.0% seen in 2018 to 2019.3

Number of job vacancies continued to decline

10. Labour demand continued to cool. The number of job vacancies fell to 78,400 in September 2023, declining for the sixth consecutive quarter from the peak of 126,000 in March 2022. Job vacancies in growth sectors including Information & Communications, Health & Social Services, Professional Services, Financial & Insurance Services made up nearly one-third of the overall job vacancies available.4

11. The overall number of job vacancies continued to exceed the number of unemployed persons. The ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons was at 1.58 in September 2023, declining from 1.94 in June 2023.


12. While the labour market continued to expand, the pace of employment growth has slowed compared to a year ago. Economic headwinds will continue to weigh on the labour market going forward.

13. The Government encourages employers and workers to make full use of available programmes to remain competitive and resilient amidst economic uncertainty. We encourage employers to press on with business transformation and equip their workers for expanded or redesigned job roles. Workers are encouraged to continue to upskill and be open to new opportunities.

a. Employers can refer to the Jobs Transformation Maps (JTMs) to understand how their businesses and job demands may change in response to sectoral trends. A total of 16 JTMs are available on Workforce Singapore’s (WSG’s) website, and three more will be progressively completed. The JTMs identify the key technologies that are driving change, and their impact on individual job roles. With this information, employers and workers can pre-emptively redesign jobs and acquire the necessary skills for jobs of the future.

b. Employers can also tap on the Support for Job Redesign under Productivity Solutions Grant, to make their jobs more productive and attractive to jobseekers.

c. WSG offers several initiatives which can help local jobseekers reskill for new job roles, such as the Career Conversion Programmes which allow jobseekers to undergo industry-recognised training with up to 90% salary and course fee support.

d. In addition, the Mid-Career Pathways Programme provides attachment opportunities to mature workers, allowing them to widen their professional networks and gain industry-relevant skills and experience while receiving a training allowance of up to $3,800 per month.

e. Local jobseekers who require additional assistance can tap on career matching services offered by WSG and NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute.

For More Information

14. The “Labour Market Report 3Q 2023” is released by the Manpower Research and Statistics Department, Ministry of Manpower. The report and technical notes on the various indicators are available at


  1. Data are from the Labour Market Report 3Q 2023, Manpower Research & Statistics Department, MOM.
  2. Administrative & Support Services consists of rental & leasing (e.g. rental and leasing of machinery & equipment), employment and recruitment agencies and other administrative & support activities (e.g. cleaning, security, event organizing).
  3. The lowest was 59.9% in 2Q 2019 and highest was 66.4% in 1Q 2019.
  4. Based on non-seasonally adjusted numbers.