ManpowerGroup Survey shows weakest outlook for two years.

Job market tightens in Singapore.

The latest ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey results for Singapore suggests that job seekers in Singapore can expect a tighter job market in the fourth quarter of 2019. Out of nearly 670 Singaporean employers surveyed on their hiring plans for the upcoming quarter, 13 per cent anticipate an increase in payrolls, eight per cent forecast a decrease and 77 per cent expect no change. The resulting Net Employment Outlook is +4 per cent after accounting for seasonal variation – the weakest outlook reported in two years.

Hiring prospects decline by seven percentage points when compared with the previous quarter and are 8 percentage points weaker in comparison with this time one year ago.

“Global and regional trade conflicts, plus warnings of a possible recession, have dampened business confidence in Singapore,” said Ms. Linda Teo, country manager of ManpowerGroup Singapore. “Anticipating that business will be affected by the economic downturn, companies are limiting their hiring activity. Some companies are also turning to upskilling their employees instead of hiring new staff.”

Employers in five of the seven industry sectors expect to add to payrolls during the forthcoming quarter. The strongest labour market is anticipated by Public Administration & Education sector employers, reporting an Outlook of +19 per cent. Elsewhere, employers in Mining & Construction and the Wholesale & Retail Trade sectors expect moderate hiring activity, reporting Outlooks of +10 per cent and +8 per cent, respectively. The Outlook in the Finance, Insurance & Real Estate sector remains relatively stable from last quarter at +5 per cent. Employers in the Manufacturing sector and Services sector report their weakest hiring outlook in a decade, which is at 0 per cent and +2 per cent, respectively. Meanwhile, Transportation & Utilities sector employers expect to trim payrolls, reporting an Outlook of -5 per cent.

Compared to last quarter, hiring intentions weaken in five sectors, most notably in the Services and Transportation & Utilities sectors, where the Outlook declined by 16 percentage points and 13 percentage points respectively.

In a comparison with the final quarter of 2018, hiring intentions weaken in all seven industry sectors. Public Administration & Education sector employers report the most noteworthy decline of 17 percentage points, and Outlooks decrease by 12 percentage points in two sectors the Manufacturing sector and the Transportation & Utilities sector. Hiring intentions are considerably weaker in the Services sector where employers report a decline of 10 percentage points, and in the Finance, Insurance & Real Estate sector with a decrease of 9 percentage points.

“While job opportunities may be limited, there remain pockets of opportunity as employers are still hiring to fill the skill gaps in their workforce. Job seekers, especially IT talent, with trending skills such as digital marketing and blockchain will find it easier to secure a job as companies move towards digitalising their processes,” says Ms. Teo.

Payroll gains are forecast for all eight Asia Pacific countries and territories in the next three months. Hiring plans improve in three countries and territories when compared with the third quarter of 2019 but weaken in four. The strongest labour market in the region is anticipated by Japanese employers for the sixth consecutive quarter, while the weakest Outlooks are reported in both China and Singapore.

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