According to the latest Ministry of Manpower (MOM) Labour Market Advance Release 2Q 2017, the resident unemployment rate and retrenchments have improved from 1Q 2017 in Singapore.  

However, the total employment continued to decline, largely reflecting a decrease in work permit holders  in construction and marine. Some of the main findings included:

  • Unemployment rate declined for residents and citizens, while the overall unemployment rate remained unchanged.
  • Total employment continued to decline, mainly due to a decrease in work permit holders in construction and marine.
  • Layoffs fell from the previous quarter

Preliminary estimates showed that quarter-on-quarter, the seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rate remained unchanged at 2.2% in June 2017.

It declined along residents (from 3.2% to 3.1%) and citizens (from 3.5% to 3.3%) from March 2017 to June 2017; after trending up from September 2016. Although unemployment declined over the quarter, they remained higher than a year ago.

In June 2017, an estimated 69,800 residents (including 62,800 Singapore citizens) were unemployed. This is lower than 74,400 (including 67,100 Singapore citizens) in March 2017.

MOM unemployment table


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Total employment contracted by 7,800 in the second quarter this year. When foreign domestic workers (FDWs) were excluded, the decline in the second quarter of 2017 was larger at 8,400.

MOM employment table

This was lower than the decline in the first quarter of 2017 (-9,400), and a reversal from the growth a year ago (2,100). The contraction in the second quarter of 2017 was mainly due to a continued decrease in work permit holders in construction and manufacturing.

Employment in manufacturing declined by 2,500 in the second quarter of 2017, though the pace of decline has moderated.


Similarly, it also contracted in construction (-9,500) for the fourth straight quarter. This might be reflecting the slowdown in public and private sector construction activities.


On the other hand, services employment continued to grow (4,100, or 3,400 when FDWs were excluded). However, growth was slower than the preceding quarter and a year ago.



The release has shown that 3,500 workers were retrenched in the second quarter of 2017 based on preliminary estimates. This is fewer than the first quarter (4,000) and a year ago (4,800).

The decrease over the quarter was broad-based across industries. On that note, services continued to form the bulk of retrenchments (64%) in the second quarter of 2017, followed by manufacturing (22%) and construction (13%).

MOM retrenchment table

In conclusion, the labour market outlook remains uneven across sectors. In fact, hiring remains cautious in sectors such as construction and marine.

Nonetheless, opportunities will continue to be available in finance and insurance, infocomms and media, healthcare, professional services and wholesale trade. These are the five sectors recently identified by MOM where the potential for job creation is promising.

With elevated unemployment rate, MOM’s priority remains to support displaced and at-risk workers, as well as jobseekers through Adapt and Grow programmes.  Workers are urged to re-skill and embrace lifelong learning to remain employable.  

Lead Photo / MOM

Tables / MOM