Nearly 3 in 4 Singapore employers have zero plans to hire more staff in Q4: Survey

Office workers in Shenton Way on April 14, 2015.
Office workers in Shenton Way on April 14, 2015.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Job seekers are in for a challenging time for the rest of the year going by a survey of the hiring intentions of Singapore employers conducted by the ManpowerGroup and released on Tuesday (Sept 13).

Of the 646 employers the firm surveyed, 73 per cent had no plans to increase staffing levels in the October to December quarter, 13 per cent expected to add to headcount, 9 per cent were unsure while 5 per cent said they might lay off staff.

Adjusting for seasonal variations, Singapore's net employment outlook for the last three months of 2016 stands at +7 per cent - the difference between the percentage of employers anticipating adding to headcount in the quarter ahead and the percentage likely to cut staff. Manpower said this figure was its weakest forecast since the third quarter of 2009 and makes seven straight quarters of gradual decline.

Year on year, overall hiring intentions have shrunk 5 percentage points.

"The hiring sentiment among employers in Singapore is reflective of the current state of the economy," said Ms Linda Teo, country manager of ManpowerGroup Singapore.

She added: "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. Our figures also reinforce the slow domestic growth MTI has projected for the Singapore economy."

Ms Teo was referring to the Ministry of Trade and Industry's (MTI) trimming of its forecast for Singapore's economic growth this year to 1 to 2 per cent - from 1 to 3 per cent previously projected.

The hiring outlook declined in five of seven industry sectors here, year on year, with the biggest drop of 15 percentage points reported by employers in mining & construction.

The outlooks are 11 and 9 percentage points weaker in the Public administration & education sector and the transportation & utilities sector respectively.

However, hiring plans improved by 3 percentage points in the services sector, and are 2 percentage points stronger in the finance, insurance & real estate sector.

The job market appears less gloomy elsewhere in the region.Employers in India and Japan continued to report the strongest hiring plans for the fourth quarter. In India, more than three out of 10 employers indicated they will add to their payrolls in the October-December time frame. Similarly in Japan, talent demand is expected to remain robust with an active hiring pace forecast in most industry sectors and all regions, especially in the mining & construction sector. Hiring plans in this sector might be fuelled by ongoing preparations in advance for the 2020 Olympic Games, said ManpowerGroup.

Employer hiring intentions in China are showing a slight rebound even as it 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 minimize the country's reliance on mining and related support activities may be gaining momentum, said ManpowerGroup.