HR & EDUCATION | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Singapore's Q3 jobless rate soars to highest in 16 years

A total of 112,500 residents are unemployed, 97,700 of which are Singaporean citizens.

Singapore’s overall unemployment rate rose to its highest since 2004 in Q3 2020 as all three sectors—manufacturing, construction, and services—witnessed lower employment during the quarter, reports UOB Global Economics & Markets Research.

The overall jobless rate rose further to 3.6% during the past quarter, provisional data from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) revealed. Singaporeans and permanent residents’ unemployment rose in tandem to 4.7% and 4.9%, respectively. This translates to 112,500 residents unemployed, 97,700 of which are Singaporeans.

Employment cuts were largely concentrated in the manufacturing and construction sector, shrinking by 14,800 and 17,100 workers, respectively.

Meanwhile, employment in the services sector fell by 300 in Q3, down from the record fall of 90,500 in Q2, noted UOB economist Barnabas Gan.

Across the services clusters, employment growth reportedly picked up in the community, social & personal services (such as healthcare, public administration), and food & beverage services.

Furthermore, despite the softening labour market, Gan noted that the rise in retrenchment and overall unemployment rate has decelerated from previous readings. Total retrenchments in Q3 rose by 970 persons (to a total of 9,100 persons) from Q2, down from an increase of 4,910 persons in Q2 from Q1.

Looking ahead, Singapore’s labour market could improve in Q4 given the uptick in business sentiments and economic conditions, Gan said.

“The proportion of companies which indicated an intention to reduce salary or headcount has been on the downtrend since May 2020, whilst more companies have indicated plans to hire compared to the preceding months. As such, we continue to expect the unemployment rate to end at 3.5% in Q4,” Gan added.

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