Amid easing unemployment and growth in resident employment, the labour market registered a recovery in the 1H2021.

The number of seasonally-adjusted job vacancies rose to an all-time high of 92,100 in June 2021, according to the labour market report for the 2Q2021 released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Sept 15.

Resident unemployment rates continued to decline, but remain elevated compared to pre-Covid-19 levels.

As the number of unemployed persons also declined, the ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons improved to above one for the first time since March 2019.

In June 2021, there were 163 job openings for every 100 unemployed persons.

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That said, the improving labour market has been uneven across sectors. For instance, domestically-oriented as well as tourism- and aviation-related sectors continued to be impacted by Covid-19.

Meanwhile, growth sectors such as financial and insurance services, professional services, as well as information and communications saw sustained demand for manpower.

In the 1H2021, resident employment increased to 28,500, while non-resident employment declined by 32,600 amid on-going border restrictions. The figure excludes migrant domestic workers (MDWs)

As a result, overall employment, excluding MDWs fell during the six-month period.


See also: Singapore's total employment declines in 2Q2021; unemployment rate improves


Resident employment increased across several sectors led by the information and communications and health and social services sectors. Figures for resident employment registered a decline in sectors adversely affected by the Phase Two (Heightened Alert) restrictions in 2Q2021. These sectors include food and beverage services and retail trade.

On the other hand, non-resident employment declined across all sectors and pass types. Work permit and other passes declined by 12,600, while EPs and S Pass holders fell 10,100 and 9,800 respectively due to the tightened travel restrictions.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, unemployment rates continued its downtrend in June, standing at an overall 2.7%. Residents’ unemployment rates during the period stood at 3.5% while citizen’s unemployment rates stood at 3.7%.

The resident and citizen unemployment rates saw lower revisions from the preliminary estimate of 3.7% and 3.8% reported in the labour market advanced report in 2Q2021.

1H2021 saw a total of 4,620 retrenchments, or 2.3 retrenchments among every 1,000 employees. According to the ministry, the figures were “comparable” to the half-yearly levels seen in 2018 and 2019.

On a q-o-q basis, the number of retrenchments rose slightly to 2,340 in 2Q2021 from 2,270 in 1Q2021.

The number of employees placed on short work-week or temporary layoff in 2Q2021 also rose to 5,580 from 4,020 in 1Q2021. This reflected particularly in those working in the food and beverage services sector.

In its outlook statement, MOM says the labour market recovery is expected to be uneven across sectors amid the ongoing uncertainty in the economy.

Tourism- and aviation- related sectors, in particular, are estimated to see a slow recovery as travel restrictions are likely to be lifted “cautiously”.

Travel demand may also remain sluggish in the near-term.

As such, activity in these sectors are expected to remain “significantly below” pre-Covid-19 levels even by end-2021.

Consumer-facing sectors such as food and beverage services and retail trade should start to recover due to the easing domestic restrictions. However, due to the subdued tourism outlook, figures may remain lower than pre-Covid-19 levels at the end of 2021.

In contrast, outward-oriented sectors such as manufacturing, wholesale trade, information and communications and the financial and insurance services sectors will continue to see strong growth prospects due to the rebound in global demand.