SINGAPORE (Dec 11): Singapore’s hiring pace is expected to moderate in 1Q19 after three consecutive quarters of strengthening labour market activity, according to the latest ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey.

After accounting for seasonal variations, ManpowerGroup notes that the net employment outlook was +10%, unchanged y-o-y but down from 11%-13% over 2Q-4Q18. This means hiring intentions declined by 3 percentage points when compared to the previous quarter, but unchanged in comparison to a year ago.  

ManpowerGroup’s net employment outlook indicator is derived from taking the percentage of employers anticipating an increase in hiring activity, and subtracting from it the percentage of employers expecting to see a decrease in employment at their location over the next quarter.

Out of the 645 employers who participated in the latest edition of the survey, 10% intended to hire in the quarter ahead, with 1% forecasting a decrease and 86% expecting no change.

In all, ManpowerGroup notes that Singapore’s employers are anticipating an increase in payrolls across all seven industry sectors in 1Q – most notably in the manufacturing sector, where employers reported the industry’s strongest forecast in more than 4 years with a net employment outlook of +14%.

On the other end of the spectrum, the weakest labour market for 1Q19 is anticipated in the transportation & utilities sector, with an outlook of just +3%.

Hiring prospects declined in six out of the seven industry sectors on a q-o-q basis. This change is most marked in the public administration & education sector, which declined by 19 percentage points from a quarter ago.

Singapore’s relatively low net employment outlook score is on par with China’s, with both countries reporting the weakest hiring intentions in the region. On the other hand, Japanese employers reported the strongest outlook in Asia Pacific. 

“Employers in Singapore are currently cautious in their business outlooks due to escalating trade tensions between the United States and China. Most employers are opting to maintain their workforce numbers in the upcoming quarter while they observe developments in the situation,” notes Linda Teo, country manager of ManpowerGroup Singapore.