It was reported that the number of foreign workers in Singapore fell for the first time in more than two years, largely driven by a slump in construction jobs as builders complied with rules requiring reduced dependency on non-residents.

The decline in non-resident employment was also seen in areas like manufacturing as well as information and communications, according to the Ministry of Manpower’s labour market advance release for the first quarter of 2024.

Meantime, applications from foreigners for higher-skilled employment passes have picked up in line with improved business expectations, the report said Tuesday (April 30).

The contraction in non-resident employment notwithstanding, overall employment in the city-state grew by 4,900 in the first quarter — notching the 10th straight month of expansion — although gains slowed from 7,500 in the prior quarter.

Retrenchments fell to 3,000 from 3,460 in the previous three-month period.

Singapore, which sees its economy expanding 1%-3% this year, expects labour demand to correspondingly strengthen, with the ministry citing surveys showing more companies have intentions to hire in the next three months.

Total unemployment edged up slightly to 2.1% in March, with the jobless rate among citizens and long-term residents inching up to 3% and 3.1%, respectively.

The higher jobless rate last quarter wasn’t unexpected, the ministry said, as higher retrenchments in the second half of 2023 foreshadowed the data. – Bloomberg


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