Job openings in Singapore have declined – and there were only 94 vacancies for every 100 unemployed

Office workers crossing a road in Robinson Road. Photo: ST File

The number of job vacancies declined as resident and citizen unemployment rates inched upwards in June, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) revealed in its second quarter labour market report on Thursday (Sept 12).

The ministry said in its report that hiring sentiments had turned cautious, and that there were fewer job vacancies than unemployed individuals for the first time since December 2017.

The number of job vacancies has taken a plunge since December 2018. Ministry of Manpower

Job vacancies also declined for the second consecutive quarter. Seasonally adjusted, there were 47,700 vacancies in June, down from 57,100 in March.

This meant that there were only 94 vacancies open for every 100 unemployed people in June. 

There was a total of 72,400 permanent residents and 64,400 citizens that were unemployed in June, higher than the numbers in March (69,700 and 62,200 respectively). 

This made it the third consecutive quarter that the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for citizens has risen: from 3.2 per cent in March to 3.3 per cent in June. However, the overall unemployment rate for Singaporeans and permanent residents combined remained stable at 2.2 per cent. Resident long-term unemployment rate also remained unchanged from March to June. 

The rate of re-entry has hit a low, even though there were fewer retrenchments Ministry of Manpower

Even though there were fewer retrenchments this year, the rate of re-entry into employment declined to 60 per cent in the second quarter, down from 66.4 per cent in the first quarter. This makes it similar to the rate that was observed in the first quarter of 2018 (61 per cent). 

In a technical note accompanying the report, MOM said that employers had been using temporary arrangements instead of retrenchments to manage labour costs. 

This includes short work-week or temporary layoff arrangements. A short work week involves employees working for fewer hours each day or fewer days each week, while temporary layoffs involve employees being asked to not go to work for a short period of time. 

These arrangements are usually due to a lack of sufficient work, and employees are able to resume work as per normal once business picks back up. 

Management consultant company Kelly Services managing director Foo See Yang said the arrangements help companies retain experienced talent while also reiterating their commitment towards their employees. 

“As such, upskilling of employees becomes an operational imperative. This will ensure that employees continue to learn to deliver the desired impact,” he added. “It is incumbent upon organisations to offer these transformative opportunities to all employees.” 

By: Lamont Mark Smith