There are positive signs that Singapore’s labour shortage difficulties are improving as unemployment continues to drop close to what pre-pandemic levels were, according to Minister of Manpower Tan See Leng.
“We are seeing the long-term unemployment, which is defined as anyone who’s unemployed for more than six months, has dropped to about 0.8%. Pre-pandemic levels [were] about 0.7%. So we’re actually quite close to what it was before Covid,” Tan said.
Singapore’s total employment continued to grow by 42,000 (not including migrant domestic workers) in the first quarter of 2022, according to official data released. Around 85% of the growth resulted from non-residents, as border restrictions were gradually lifted and employers backfilled vacancies for jobs that are more reliant on migrant workers.
“With the significant relaxation of border restrictions, we expect the non-resident workforce to continue to recover, catching up with the strong resident employment growth over the past two years. This will provide some relief to the current labour market tightness,” the manpower ministry stated.
“At the same time, the deterioration of the external economic environment, due in part to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, has weakened the demand outlook for some of our outward-oriented sectors,” it added.
The minister said that as border restrictions continue to be relaxed, more foreign workers are returning to Singapore, which would ease the labour crisis they have been experiencing especially within the construction industry.
Back in May, Hari Krishnan, the CEO of real estate company PropertyGuru underlined that the construction industry was largely shut for approximately two years because of a shortage of manpower, though the industry started its recovery last year.