From October to December (Q4) 2016, hiring intentions among Singapore employers remain modest, according to the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey by ManpowerGroup.
Of the 646 employers surveyed in Singapore, 73% foresee no change to their headcount in the coming three months. Just over one in 10 (13%) say they plan to increase staffing levels, while 5% anticipate a decrease in headcount.
Adjusted to seasonal variations, Singapore’s net employment outlook stands at +7%, the weakest forecast reported since Q3 2009 following seven successive quarters of gradual decline. Overall, hiring intentions have shrunk 5 percentage points year-over-year.
Linda Teo, country manager of ManpowerGroup Singapore, said the hiring sentiment is reflective of the current state of the economy. "Singapore, being export-driven, has clearly been affected by China’s slumping growth, downturn in commodities and the uncertainty due to Britain’s vote to withdraw from the European Union."
She also referred to Ministry of Trade and Industry’s updated forecast of Singapore’s economy which is expected to expand by 1% to 2% - possibly the slowest year since 2009. This is a narrower than the 1% to 3% that was previously predicted.
Hiring sentiments by sectors
Within the seven industries in Singapore covered, following is the net employment outlook (NEO):
- Finance, insurance and real estate: Reporting a NEO of +19%, hiring plans have improved both quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year by 3 and 2 percentage points respectively.
- Manufacturing: Modest hiring activity is forecast with NEO of +5%, with hiring prospects having declined by 2 and 3 percentage points quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year, respectively.
- Mining and construction: The weakest – and first negative – hiring pace since Q2 2009 is expected in Q4 2016, with employers reporting NEO -2%.
- Public administration and education: Reporting NEO of +7%, the outlook is the weakest reported since Q2 2009, declining by 6 percentage points quarter-over-quarter.
- Services: Employers report hopeful hiring prospects for Q4 with NEO +15%, and hiring plans 4 percentage points stronger when compared with the previous quarter.
- Transportation and utilities: Job seekers can expect the weakest hiring pace since Q2 2013, according to employers who report NEO of +6%.
- Wholesale and retail trade: Hiring prospects are unchanged quarter-over-quarter but decline by 3 percentage points year-over-year, as employers report NEO of +1%.
Asia Pacific hiring outlook
Employers in India and Japan continue to report the strongest hiring plans for the fourth quarter. In India, more than three out of 10 employers indicate they will add to their payrolls in Q4 2016. Similarly in Japan, an active hiring pace is forecast in most industry sectors, especially in mining and construction which may be owing to the ongoing preparations for the 2020 Olympic Games.
Employer hiring intentions in Australia and China are showing a slight rebound. China continues structural adjustments to de-emphasise its reliance on heavy industry. Meanwhile, in Australia, positive forecasts are reported across all industry sectors and regions, and indicate that efforts to minimise the country’s reliance on mining and related support activities may be gaining momentum.
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