Singapore Employers Expect Hiring Pace to Weaken in the Next Three Months of 2016

March 7, 20168:00 am450 views

Job seekers in Singapore can expect their employment search to be slightly tougher in the second quarter of 2016. Singapore employers report modest hiring intentions for the April-June time frame. With 14% of employers expecting to increase staffing levels, 4% forecasting a decrease and 76% anticipating no change, the resulting Net Employment Outlook is +10%.

Hiring intentions for the next three months are at their weakest since Q3 of 2009 following five consecutive quarters of steady decline. The forecast was announced following the release of the Q2 2016 Manpower Employment Outlook Survey (MEOS).

In the next three months, 14% of employers expect to increase staffing levels while 4% forecast a decrease in headcount. Once seasonal variations are removed from the data, the Net Employment Outlook stands at a conservative +10%. This Outlook is four percentage points weaker than the same period in 2015.

A total of 693 employers in Singapore were surveyed for Q2 2016 MEOS, a quarterly hiring forecast published by global talent experts, US-based ManpowerGroup.

Linda Teo, country manager of ManpowerGroup Singapore says: “The dimmer hiring outlook is not surprising amid a sluggish economic environment.”  The Ministry of Trade and Industry projects that the Singapore economy may grow at a modest clip of between 1 and 3 per cent this year. Last year, the nation’s economy grew at its slowest pace since the Global Financial Crisis in 2009.

Teo further adds: “It’s a bearish sentiment we’re seeing as local employers face internal pressures of high operational costs, and business nerves continue to be frayed over China’s slowdown, which impact trade-dependent economies like ours.”

In the quarterly MEOS, employers are asked if they will increase or decrease headcount or keep to status quo. A total of 76% of employers surveyed said that they will keep to current headcounts in Q2 2016. This compares to 71% year-on-year.

Domestic Hiring Sentiments by Sectors

MEOS covers seven industries: Finance, Insurance & Real Estate; Manufacturing; Mining & Construction; Public Administration & Education; Services; Transportation & Utilities; and Wholesale & Retail Trade.

See: 77% of Singaporean Workforce Determine Where to Work, Depending on the Work-Life Balance and Flexible Work Arrangements Offered

*Net Employment Outlooks

Hiring sentiment is not uniformly upbeat across the seven sectors. Employers in the Finance, Insurance & Real Estate; Mining & Construction; and the Services sectors report the strongest hiring intentions. The outlook is +12% for each of these three sectors.

Outlook stands at +9% each for the Public Administration & Education, and the Transportation & Utilities sectors. In the Wholesale Trade & Retail Trade sector, employers forecast modest payroll gains with an outlook of +6%. The weakest hiring sentiment is in the Manufacturing sector whose outlook is +5%. “The pockets of hiring growth are where either top talent or ground-level workers are in short supply,” says Teo.

*Quarter-on-Quarter Sector Comparisons

Hiring intentions weaken in four of the seven industry sectors quarter-on-quarter. Employers in the public administration and education sector report the biggest decline of 11 percentage points. Outlooks are 4 percentage points weaker in the Transportation & Utilities sector and 3 percentage points weaker in the Finance, Insurance & Real Estate sector.

Elsewhere, outlooks are unchanged in the services and the Mining & Construction sectors. The hiring prospect is a tad stronger in the Wholesale Trade & Retail Trade sector, with an outlook of +6%.

*Year-on-Year Sector Comparisons

Employers report weaker hiring plans across all seven sectors year-on-year. The most noteworthy declines are in the Finance, Insurance & Real Estate sector (down 9 percentage points) and the Public Administration & Education sector (down 8 percentage points).

Employers report decline of 7 percentage points in each of these three sectors – Services; Transportation & Utilities; and Wholesale Trade & Retail Trade.

Asia Pacific Hiring Outlook

Net Employment Outlook weakens in seven out of eight countries covered in the Asia Pacific (AP) region in Q2 2016 when compared with the previous quarter. Among the seven countries are China and New Zealand.

India tops the hiring-plan charts with an outlook of +38%. Australian employers report the weakest hiring forecast in AP: the outlook of +4% was dampened by a negative sentiment in the Mining & Construction sector.

Employers in India and Japan report the strongest second-quarter hiring plans, while those in Australia and China report the weakest. Activity in Japan’s labor market is expected to remain strong through the end of June.MEOS_Q2 2016_infographic_FINAL-page-001

Forecasts indicate that opportunities for job seekers in Japan will remain solid in most industry sectors and regions, as nearly a third of the country’s employers indicate they have jobs to fill.

However, efforts to fill positions continue to be hampered by the challenge of a rapidly shrinking workforce. Confidence among Taiwan’s employers is expected to be similarly strong. However, the survey indicates the hiring pace will slow for the fourth consecutive quarter.

A growing dependence on China in this export-driven market may be discouraging employers from hiring at levels similar to the last several years, and the forecast dips to its least optimistic level since Quarter 4 2009.

Hong Kong’s hiring climate continues to be favorable and job growth has remained relatively stable for eight consecutive quarters, buoyed by a consistently strong services sector forecast.

Meanwhile, hiring plans in China weaken in comparison to both the prior quarter and Quarter 2 2015. Outlooks are positive in all industry sectors and regions, but are among the weakest reported in the history of the survey.

In addition to subdued job growth projections, uncertainty is evidently on the increase as nearly half of the employers surveyed indicate they simply don’t know what their second quarter hiring plans will be.

Also read: Top 75 Companies in Singapore for 2016 Revealed

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