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Labour Market Advance Release Fourth Quarter 2023


1. Advance estimates showed that the labour market continued to expand in 4Q 2023. Unemployment rates remained stable, while retrenchments eased.

2. For the whole of 2023, employment grew for both residents and non-residents, but the pace of growth moderated in each successive quarter amidst weaker economic conditions. However, the labour market remained tight even with labour demand cooling. Consequently, unemployment rates remained stable and low. The number of retrenchments rose in 2023 after a record-low in 2022, largely a result of re-organisation or restructuring within firms.

Main Findings1

Total employment grew, though the pace has moderated for both residents and non-residents

3. Total employment (excluding Migrant Domestic Workers) continued to grow for the ninth consecutive quarter, expanding by 8,400 in 4Q 2023. However, this growth moderated significantly in 4Q 2023 for both residents and non-residents compared to previous quarters. This moderation was not unexpected as weaker hiring expectations and declining job vacancies from previous quarters2 indicated cooling labour demand.

4. Resident employment growth was largely in Health & Social Services and Public Administration & Education, as well as in Retail Trade and Food & Beverage Services due to seasonal hiring in 4Q 2023.

5. After the sharp, post-pandemic rebound in 2022, total employment growth for the full year of 2023 was moderate amidst weaker economic conditions. The more muted pace of growth was seen for both residents and non-residents.

Unemployment rates remained stable

6. Unemployment rates were unchanged in December 2023 (overall: 2.0%; resident: 2.8%; and citizen: 2.9%).

7. For the full year of 2023, the average unemployment rates remained stable and low amidst a still-tight labour market (overall: 2.1% in 2022 vs. 1.9% in 2023; resident: 2.9% vs. 2.7%; citizen: 3.0% vs. 2.9%).

Retrenchments fell over the quarter

8. Retrenchments fell to 3,200 in 4Q 2023 from 4,110 in 3Q 2023, after a surge in Wholesale Trade retrenchments in the previous quarter. While retrenchments rose in Electronics Manufacturing, the number of retrenchments in other sectors remained broadly stable or declined.

9. For the whole of 2023, the number of retrenchments rose from a record-low of 6,440 in 2022 to 14,320 in 2023. Business reorganisation or restructuring remained the top reason for retrenchments in 2023, due in part to the impact of global economic headwinds on outward-oriented sectors such as Wholesale Trade, IT Services and Electronics Manufacturing.


10. MOM’s surveys indicate an improvement in business expectations alongside MTI’s expectation of improved economic growth prospects for 2024. The proportion of firms which indicated an intention to hire in the next three months rose from 42.8% in the previous quarter to 47.7% in 4Q 2023. Likewise, the proportion of firms with an intention to raise wages rose from 18.0% to 32.6%. Nevertheless, as downside risks in the global economy remain, business reorganisation or restructuring will continue and may lead to further retrenchments.

11. The Government strongly encourages employers and workers to make full use of available programmes to remain competitive and resilient amidst economic uncertainty. Employers should 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.

  1. 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 four more will be progressively completed. The JTMs identify the key technologies that are impacting individual job roles and employers could use the JTMs to pre-emptively redesign jobs and reskill their workers for jobs of the future.
  2. Employers are also encouraged to tap on the Support for Job Redesign under Productivity Solutions Grant, to make their jobs more productive and attractive to jobseekers.
  3. WSG offers several initiatives that can help local workers reskill for new job roles, such as the Career Conversion Programmes which support mid-career workers to undergo industry-recognised training with up to 90% salary and course fee support.
  4. In addition, WSG’s 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.
  5. Local jobseekers who require additional assistance can tap on career matching services offered by WSG and NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute.

12. The Labour Market Report Fourth Quarter 2023, due for release in mid-March 2024, will provide a comprehensive assessment and more details of the labour market situation in 4Q 2023 and the full year of 2023. This will include the breakdown of resident and non-resident employment3, sectoral breakdowns, number of job vacancies, labour turnover, and re-entry rates among retrenched residents.

For More Information

13. The report is available online on the Ministry of Manpower’s Research and Statistics Department website at

14. For data requests and queries pertaining to the report, please reach out to the Ministry of Manpower’s Research and Statistics Department at


  1. 4Q 2023 data are preliminary.
  2. Even with the declining job vacancies, the ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons remained high at 1.58 in September 2023 and was also higher than pre-pandemic periods.
  3. 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.