Amidst the economic slowdown, hiring intentions in Singapore for the third quarter of 2016 are expected to be moderate at best.

According to the Q3 2016 Manpower Employment Outlook Survey (MEOS), of the 647 employers in Singapore surveyed, only 11% of employers are planning to increase headcount.

Almost eight in ten are planning to maintain their workforce size while 1% expect a decrease in staffing levels.

Overall, the lion city's net employment outlook stands at a modest +9%, a decrease of one percentage point from Q2 2016 and by four percentage points year-on-year. This makes Q3 2016's employment outlook the weakest forecast reported since Q3 2009.

Linda Teo, country manager of ManpowerGroup Singapore said: "Even though we may not be in a recessionary mode, the employment sentiment certainly isn’t as positive as it has been in the past. In fact, the third-quarter results are the weakest reported since we started to emerge from the last global financial crisis."

"However, more than three-quarters of the employers we surveyed told us they planned to keep their current workforces intact during the July-September time frame. Employers are clearly sensing more uncertainty in the business environment, but most of them appear to be waiting for clearer signs in the market place before they engage in further personnel decisions."

Referring to the Monetary Authority of Singapore's (MAS) Macroeconomic Review report published in April, she added: "Our numbers confirm what MAS had indicated about a protracted period of modest growth in the quarters ahead."

"The (MAS) report said that the nation will face slower economic growth given that its trade-related industries are impacted by sluggish economies of its trading partners such as the United States and Japan," the press release stated.

SG MEOS Q3 2016

Of the seven sectors - finance, insurance and real estate; manufacturing; mining and construction; public administration and education; services; transportation and utilities; and wholesale and retail trade- covered by the MEOS, the finance, insurance and real estate sector saw the highest hiring intention, with an outlook of +16%.

This was followed by the public administration and education, and the transportation and utilities sector with outlooks of +14% and +13%, respectively. While the weakest forecast was reported in the wholesale trade and retail trade sector (+3%).

As for the remaining sectors, the outlook stands at +10% for services; +9% for mining and construction; and 7%+ for manufacturing.

SG MEOS Q3 2016 sector

Quarter-on-quarter, job prospects saw an increase in four of the seven sectors in the report, most notably in the public administration and education sector with an increase of 6 percentage points.

"Hiring intentions were four and three percentage points stronger in the finance, insurance and real estate sector and the transportation and utilities sectors, respectively," the press release stated.

However, outlooks in the other sectors were found to be weaker, with the most decline seen in the mining and construction - a decline of 4 percentage points.

Year-on-year, hiring prospects were found to have declined in three of the seven industry sectors with the biggest decrease of 14 percentage points seen in the services sector.

In the finance, insurance and real estate sector, and the manufacturing sector, the outlooks were found to be 5 and 3 percentage points weaker respectively.

However, hiring plans picked up in other sectors, including an increase of 3 percentage points for the wholesale trade and retail trade sector.

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Among the Asia Pacific countries surveyed, employers in China and Australia reported the weakest outlook at +2% and +8% respectively. Singapore was found to have the third lowest hiring outlook at +9%.

With slightly brighter hiring plans than Singapore, employers in Hong Kong reported an outlook of +12%.

On the other hand, employers in India (+35%) and Japan (+22%) reported the strongest Q3 hiring plans.

SG MEOS Q3 2016 global


Image: 123RF