The hiring outlook is positive overall for the first quarter of 2016, according to the recent Manpower Employment Outlook Survey.
However, when looking at the numbers in more detail, hiring activity is muted.
Manpower measures outlook using a term known as Net Employment Outlook (NEO), which is the percentage of employers expecting total employment to increase, minus the percentage who think total employment will drop.
Although the overall mindset for Q1 may be positive, the NEO of +11% remains the weakest reported since Q3 2009, which could be a sign that employers in Singapore are preparing for slower growth, both locally and abroad.
The NEO of +11% for Q1 2016 compares with an outlook of +18% projected in Q1 of 2015.
Speaking on the results of the report, country manager for the ManpowerGroup Singapore, Linda Teo, stated: While some employers report very cautious increases in hiring for the first quarter of next year, there are more employers indicating that they may decrease headcount, and forecasts decline by varying margins in six of seven industry sectors in a year-on-year comparison.”
Adding to her comments, Teo continued, At home, exports have shrunk, manufacturing activity has fallen, and small and medium-sized firms report little or negative growth. China’s economy continues on a sluggish track, impacting our shipments there. To a certain extent, these factors contribute to the muted hiring sentiment for the next quarter.”
When employers were surveyed about their hiring expectations, 68% expected to make no headcount change, 15% reported possible increases in the number of employees, and 6% stated a decrease in staff would be necessary.
The survey covered seven industry sectors – finance, insurance & real estate, manufacturing, public administration & education, wholesale & retail trade, transportation & utilities, and mining & construction.
While employees can expect an increase in job opportunities in all seven of the above sectors overall, the interest and intensity of hiring processes will likely vary quite a bit between industries.
- Currently, job prospects in the Public Administration & Education industry show the most promise, with a NEO of +21%.
- These numbers are followed up by the Finance/Insurance & Real Estate industry (+16%) and the Mining, Construction, Transportation & Utilities industry (+13%).
- The Wholesale Trade & Retail sector is showing the least growth potential, with an Outlook stat of a mere +5%.
Six of the seven industries are weakening in potential when compared year-on-year with Q1 of 2015. Once again, the biggest declines are reported within the Wholesale Trade & Retail sector, with a decline of 12%.
Looking at the outlook for the rest of Asia Pacific, according to the survey 8 of the countries included expect to add to their payrolls during Q1 of 2016, especially in Taiwan and India. When compared to the previous year, employers in Japan and Australia report stronger hiring outlooks, while those in China, Taiwan, New Zealand and India report weaker outlooks. NEO for Hong Kong is at the same level.