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Singapore retrenchments increased in third quarter of 2023: MOM

Advance estimates for the third quarter of 2023 also showed that unemployment rates remained low while total employment expanded.

Shot of a young businessman holding a sign asking for employment, illustrating a story on retrenchments in Singapore.
Retrenchments in Singapore rose to 4,100 in the third quarter of 2023, based on advance estimates released by the Ministry of Manpower. (PHOTO: Getty) (PeopleImages via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Retrenchments rose to 4,100 in the third quarter of 2023 from 3,200 in the previous quarter, according to advanced estimates by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) released on Thursday (26 October).

The increase in retrenchments was primarily driven by the wholesale trade sector, reflecting the weaker external outlook the sector faced. At the same time, other sectors saw relatively stable or declining retrenchments.

The top reason for retrenchments for the third quarter of 2023 was business reorganisation or restructuring, which was consistent with the previous quarter.

Unemployment rates in Singapore

Advanced estimates also showed that despite the rise in retrenchments and a slight increase in unemployment rates in July, the overall unemployment rate in September 2023 remained low at an overall rate of 2 per cent.

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The low unemployment rates suggest that most retrenched workers have been able to find new employment quickly, according to MOM.

MOM cautioned that while the unemployment rates remained low due to continued tightness in the labour market, the rates have been on a "slow uptrend" and may continue to rise further.

Total employment

Despite a weaker economic outlook, advance estimates indicated that total employment in the third quarter of 2023, excluding migrant domestic workers, expanded for the eighth consecutive growth by 24,000 with increases for both residents and non-residents. This was comparable to the previous quarter where total employment excluding migrant domestic workers expanded by 23,700.

Resident employment expanded in growth sectors such as financial services, professional services, as well as health and social services.

On the other hand, non-resident employment expanded in sectors such as construction, retail trade, food and beverage services and administrative and support services.

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