Hiring plans in Singapore stable: Survey

Office workers crossing Maxwell Road in the central business district (CBD) area on 10 August 2011. -- ST FILE PHOTO: JOYCE FANG
Office workers crossing Maxwell Road in the central business district (CBD) area on 10 August 2011. -- ST FILE PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

Quarter of 700 firms polled expect to raise staff count, while 66% see no change

Singapore employers are upbeat over hiring prospects for the coming quarter in all seven industry sectors, a new report says.

Global employment firm ManpowerGroup surveyed 700 employers here and found nearly a quarter, or 23 per cent, expect staffing levels to rise.

Only 5 per cent anticipate a decrease, while 66 per cent forecast no change in staffing levels. The rest did not know what their plans would be.

Even though hiring plans have dipped by 2 percentage points compared with the previous quarter, hiring intentions remain stable compared with the second quarter of 2013.

"Singapore's labour market outlook in 2014 remains positive, thanks to the recovery of business confidence expected in the United States, Europe and China," said Ms Linda Teo, ManpowerGroup's Singapore manager.

In the current quarter, all seven industry sectors are expected to do better. The seven are manufacturing, mining and construction, services, transportation and utilities, wholesale trade and retail trade, public administration and education, and finance, insurance and real estate.

The strongest jobs forecast is for transportation and utilities, where net employment outlook - the percentage expecting an increase minus the percentage seeing a fall - is at 35 per cent. This is followed by those in finance, insurance and real estate at 24 per cent.

Compared with the previous quarter, hiring plans improved considerably in two industry sectors. Transportation and utilities increased by 10 percentage points, while mining and construction reported a 3 percentage point increase.

In contrast, hiring prospects weakened most notably in manufacturing - by 6 percentage points.

Ms Teo believes that this is due to a fall in biomedical manufacturing output.

Compared with the second quarter of last year, four of the seven sectors indicated stronger hiring intentions. They are the transport and utilities, mining and construction and wholesale and retail trade, and finance, insurance and real estate sectors.

Other sectors reported a decrease in the hiring outlook, particularly public administration and education sector, with an 18 percentage point decline.

The outlook also dipped by 9 percentage points in services and 4 percentage points in manufacturing compared with the same period last year.

The projected growth of staffing levels is not confined to Singapore.

Employers in Australia, mainland China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, New Zealand and Taiwan are also expecting to hire more workers during the next three months.

When compared with the second quarter of 2013, hiring in all seven countries and territories is projected to increase, though growth in China is expected to decline by two percentage points.

The strongest labour market is expected in India, where a net 41 per cent of employers want to hire more workers, while employers from Australia report the weakest hiring prospects at 10 per cent.

ivantyh@sph.com.sg

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