How Is The Singapore Job Market Doing?

The Ministry of Manpower released it’s latest report (2Q 2011, March to June 2011) on the Singapore job market.

Here are the highlights:

  • Total employment grew by 24,800 in the second quarter of 2011.  Although the growth was lower than in the preceding quarter (28,300), it is comparable to the second quarter last year (24,900).
  • With the slower employment growth, the overall unemployment rate increased from a seasonally adjusted 1.9% in March 2011 to 2.1% in June 2011.  Over the same period, the unemployment rate for residents rose from 2.7% to 3.0%.  Long-term unemployment improved.  Nearly one in five (19%) or 15,500 of the unemployed residents in June 2011 had been looking for work for at least 25 weeks, lower than the 20% or 16,500 a year ago and 22% or 25,800 in June 2009.  These long-term unemployed residents formed 0.7% of the resident labour force, down from 0.8% in June 2010 and the high of 1.3% in June 2009 during the recession.
  • The number of workers made redundant  decreased from 2,750 in the first quarter of 2011 to 2,020 in the second quarter of 2011.  CPF records showed that 57% of residents laid off in the first quarter of 2011 secured employment by June 2011.   This rate of re-entry  rose for the second consecutive quarter  from 53% in March 2011 and 51% in December 2010.
  • Job vacancies rose over the quarter by 13% to 55,900 in June 2011. After adjusting for seasonality, the increase moderated to 2.4%. With more seeking employment, the seasonally adjusted ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons eased to 116 openings for every 100 job seekers in June 2011, after the sharp increase from 104 in December 2010 to 139 openings per 100 job seekers in March 2011.
  • The average monthly recruitment rate eased slightly in the second quarter of 2011.  The seasonally adjusted rate was 2.7%, down slightly from 2.8% in the previous quarter. On the other hand, the average resignation rate held steady at a seasonally adjusted 2.0%.


Recruitment firm Hudson had previously published their report on expectations for the Singapore job market. The survey was conducted in June 2011 and provided expectations for Q3 2011 (July to September 2011)

Hiring expectations show a small fall this quarter but are still at a high level.  In the survey of over 400 executives across key business sectors, 56% plan to grow headcount in Quarter Three (Q3) 2011, compared with 61% in Q2 2011 and 57% in Q3 2010.


The Healthcare & Life Sciences again reports the highest expectations this quarter.  Two-thirds (67%) of respondents plan to increase hiring, the same proportion as in Q2.  After a slow start to the year, companies are now hiring aggressively for a wide range of positions.


Respondents in the Consumer / Advertising / Media sector report a substantial rise in expectations, with 66% forecasting headcount growth.  This compares with 59% in Q2.  FMCG companies are generally optimistic about the economic outlook in Asia and many multinational corporations are expanding their operations in Singapore, creating strong demand for talented candidates.  Sales professionals are widely sought after and many companies are also recruiting for product development and innovation roles.


Expectations show a slight fall in the IT&T sector, where 61% of respondents say they will hire more staff, compared with 65% the previous quarter.  This suggests that most employers are still actively hiring but are being a little more cautious than in recent quarters, when many were running aggressive recruitment campaigns.  The market for talent is still tight, especially for sought after specialists in new technologies, and an increase in poaching is becoming apparent.


In the Banking & Financial Services sector, 49% of respondents plan to grow headcount this quarter, down from 59% in Q2.  This sector recovered quickly from the global economic downturn and has been hiring actively for several quarters.  Recruitment is now slowing slightly as managers undertake mid-year strategy reviews and re-evaluate their requirements, but the underlying sentiment remains positive.  Financial institutions are still actively seeking candidates with specific skill sets and experience in such areas as derivatives, exotic products and risk management.


The Manufacturing & Industrial sector reports the steepest fall in expectations, from 59% in Q2 to 44% this quarter.  The second quarter is traditionally a peak hiring season in this sector, as companies complete much of their hiring for the year after bonus payments have been finalised.  The second half of the year tends to see a slowdown in recruitment activity.

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