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Labour Market Report in 4Q 2023


1. The labour market demonstrated resilience in 2023 despite global headwinds and the inflationary environment. Total employment grew by 88,400 in 2023. This was largely driven by non-resident employment growth, with resident employment rate remaining high and resident unemployment rate (2.8%) remaining low.

2. Labour demand cooled over the course of the year, with the rate of employment growth slowing in each successive quarter and the number of job vacancies declining in the first three quarters. However, the number of vacancies registered a slight increase in December 2023 after six consecutive quarters of decline. With the rise in job vacancies and low unemployment, the labour market remained moderately tight and the ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons rose to 1.74 in December 2023.

3. The incidence of retrenchment in 2023 (6.7 per 1,000 employees) was more than double the record low seen in 2022 (3.1) but similar to pre-pandemic levels (average for 2015 to 2019: 6.7). The top reason for retrenchments remained business reorganisation/ restructuring (58.6%) in 2023, due in part to the impact of global economic headwinds on outward oriented sectors such as Wholesale Trade, Information & Communications Services and Electronic Manufacturing. In 4Q 2023, the majority of retrenched workers (61.5%) were able to re-enter employment six months post-retrenchment, although the re-entry rate has dipped compared to the previous quarter. Nevertheless, the resident long-term unemployment rate remained low at 0.7% in December 2023.

4. Looking ahead, MOM surveys indicate an improvement in business sentiments alongside MTI’s forecast of improved economic growth prospects for 2024. More employers have plans to hire or increase wages in 2024.1 With global headwinds persisting, we also expect business restructuring and reorganisation to continue, which may contribute to further retrenchments. The Government and tripartite partners encourage and support employers and workers to press on with business transformation and upskilling.

Main Findings2

Total employment grew at a moderate pace

5. Total employment grew by 88,400 in 2023. Given the low resident unemployment rate, this increase was largely driven by non-residents (83,500), especially in the Construction and Manufacturing sectors.3 Resident employment growth (4,900) was mainly in Financial Services and Professional Services.

6. In 4Q 2023, total employment expanded for the ninth consecutive quarter by 7,500. However, this increase has moderated significantly in 4Q 2023 for both residents (400) and non-residents (7,000) compared to 3Q 2023 (resident: 2,800; non-resident: 20,800). The moderation was not unexpected as weaker hiring expectations and declining job vacancies from previous quarters indicated cooling labour demand.

7. Resident employment growth in 4Q 2023 was in sectors which typically engage in year-end seasonal hiring such as Retail Trade (2,400), Food & Beverage Services (500) and Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (400), although these increases were much lower than previous years.

Unemployment and long-term unemployment rates remained low

8. Unemployment rates remained stable and low in December 2023 (overall: 2.0%; resident: 2.8%; citizen: 2.9%). The seasonally adjusted resident long-term unemployment rate in December 2023 remained the same as September 2023 (0.7%).

Retrenchments rose from the low in 2022, but comparable to pre-pandemic levels

9. As firms restructured or reorganised their businesses, the number and incidence of retrenchments rose in 2023 (14,590 or 6.7 per 1,000 employees) compared to the low in 2022 (6,440 or 3.1) but was similar to the pre-pandemic levels (average for 2015 to 2019: 14,180 or 6.7). In 4Q 2023, the number of retrenchments fell to 3,460 (or 1.5 per 1,000 employees) from 4,110 (1.9) in 3Q 2023. The decrease was driven by a fall in retrenchments in Wholesale Trade, which saw a surge in 3Q 2023.

Re-entry rate among retrenched residents dipped

10. While the re-entry rate (six months post retrenchment) among retrenched workers declined slightly in 4Q 2023 to 61.5% from the previous quarter (65.3%), it remained within the range of 60.0% to 70.0% seen during the pre-pandemic years (annual average for 2015 to 2019: 65.7%).

Number of job vacancies increased slightly in December 2023

11. After six consecutive quarters of decline from the peak of 124,400 in March 2022, the number of job vacancies rose slightly in December 2023 (79,800), from September 2023 (78,200).

12. The ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons also rose to 1.74 in December 2023. There have been more job vacancies per unemployed persons since March 2021 (0.96), indicating a moderately tight labour market.


13. Amidst global economic uncertainties, the Ministry of Manpower will work hand-in-hand with Singaporeans to sustain economic competitiveness and help workers take on better jobs. We will empower employers and workers to press on with business and workforce transformation:

i. Employers can make use of the Jobs Transformation Maps (JTMs) to understand how their businesses and job demands may change in response to sectoral trends, as well as how to redesign jobs and reskill workers for new jobs. A total of 16 JTMs have been completed, and the Government will progressively launch 4 more in new growth areas such as Generative AI and Sustainable Finance.

ii. The Government will support companies to transform and redesign jobs. Employers can tap on the Support for Job Redesign under the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG-JR) and NTUC Company Training Committee (CTC) Grant.

iii The Government will support companies to upskill and reskill their workers for new roles. Employers can tap on Workforce Singapore (WSG)’s Career Conversion Programmes (CCPs) which provide up to 90% salary support to employers to train new hires or existing workers for new or enhanced job roles. From 1 April 2024 onwards, the salary support caps for CCPs will be increased to $7,500 for mature or long-term unemployed workers and $5,000 for workers. Employers can receive up to $45,000 for each CCP trainee for a typical six-month programme. In addition, the eligibility criteria will be expanded beyond employees in at-risk roles to cover all employees who are being reskilled to take on growth jobs.

iv. WSG will also launch a new Overseas Markets Immersion Programme (OMIP) to encourage employers with overseas expansion plans to send employees with little to no overseas market experience for overseas postings. Workers will benefit by acquiring new skills from these overseas postings, while businesses will benefit from a more skilled workforce that can better support their market expansion plans. More details will be announced in the next few months, including the amount of financial support that OMIP will provide to employers.

14. We will also empower workers to strengthen their career health to seize new opportunities. To take advantage of programmes like the CCPs and OMIP, workers will need to be better equipped to make informed training and career decisions and longer-term career plans. Jobseekers can make use of the CareersFinder feature on WSG’s MyCareersFuture job portal, which harnesses data and artificial intelligence to explore career options that make the best use of their skills and experience, and pathways to reach their career goals.

15. Jobseekers who require additional assistance in their job search can tap on career matching services offered by WSG and NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i).

For more information

16. The “Labour Market Report 4Q 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. 47.7% of firms surveyed in December 2023 have plans to hire over the next quarter, an increase from 42.8% in September 2023. Forward-looking data based on company polls show that the proportion of firms with intention to raise wages in the next three months rose to 32.6% in December 2023 from the low of 18.0% in September 2023.
  2. Data are from the Labour Market Report 4Q 2023, Manpower Research & Statistics Department, MOM.
  3. In December 2023, non-resident employment formed 50.7% of total employment in Manufacturing and 77.2% in Construction.