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Layoffs in Singapore rose 10 per cent in 2012: MOM

Overall employment in Singapore in 2012 may have increased, but there were also 10 per cent more layoffs last year than in the year before.

Workers from the services and manufacturing sectors formed the majority of the 11,010 workers that were made redundant last year. Across sectors, professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) and production & related workers formed the bulk of total layoffs.

These are key findings from the “Redundancy and Re-Entry into Employment” report released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Thursday.

The report also noted that the incidence of redundancy increased to 5.8 employees per 1,000 last year. The year before the number was 5.5 workers.

Top reasons cited for declaring the redundancies were restructuring business processes for greater efficiency, reorganisation and high operating cost. Employers also cited labour cost and the industry downturn as contributing factors.

Layoffs increased for residents compared to 2011 but declined slightly for non-residents, reflecting the rise in layoffs in services which is more reliant on residents than non-residents, MOM said.

A demographic analysis of the residents made redundant found that a majority of them were previously PMETs. Of these workers, most were males and in their 30s and 40s, and were displaced mainly from services.

In contrast, residents aged below 30 and those who were lower-educated (non-degree holders) were less vulnerable to layoffs, reflecting robust demand for low- and mid-level workers in 2012, the ministry said.

The incidence of redundancy among PMETs rose to 7.4 per 1,000 last year from 5.5 the year before, possibly reflecting the increasing vulnerability of mid-level white collars in the face of globalisation and technological innovations, MOM noted.

Workers in the manufacturing sector still face the highest risk of losing their jobs at a rate of 10 per 1,000 workers.

As for re-entry into the workforce, compared to 2011, fewer workers laid off in the first three quarters of 2012 were back in the workforce by December 2012. This was partly because of the rise in lay-offs of PMETs, who have lower re-entry rates compared to other worker profiles, and that may be due to increased competition from the growing pool of tertiary graduates, MOM said.

Also, some PMETs may have savings, which give them breathing space to search for jobs that are a better match to their skill sets, qualifications and salary expectations, it added.

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