Singapore retrenchments doubled at end 2022

SINGAPORE: Despite total employment returning to pre-pandemic levels, the number of retrenchments in the fourth quarter of 2022 (4Q22) between October and December doubled to 2,990 from the 1,300 in 3Q22.

However, fewer jobs were cut in the second half of 2022 – 890 – than expected in the information and communications sector, which covers technology firms.

Manpower Minister Tan See Leng told Parliament last November that firms in the sector had reported 1,270 layoffs within four-and-a-half months from July 2022.

The earlier figure was derived from mandatory retrenchment notifications that firms could submit ahead of planned job cuts, a Ministry of Manpower spokesman said on Wednesday at a briefing on the finalised fourth quarter labour market report.

“There will be some differences because there are some retrenchments that didn’t take place, (and) there are some retrenchments that could have happened but were not captured in the earlier notifications,” the spokesman added.

Electronics manufacturing (670), wholesale trade (450) and information and communications (370) were among sectors that contributed the most to the 2,990 jobs cut in 4Q22.

More workers were retrenched in the second half of 2022 than in the first half.

High-profile tech employers, including Facebook parent firm Meta and ride-hailing giant GoTo, had to prune costs amid a volatile global environment and after over-expanding during Covid-19.

Business restructuring was the most common reason cited for the cuts in 4Q22.

The 6,440 total retrenchments in 2022 remained low compared with the pre-pandemic years of 2018 and 2019, when more than 10,000 jobs were eliminated each year, the Ministry said. — The Straits Times/ANN