by Jared Heng
Amid more moderate economic growth, layoffs of workers in Singapore increased slightly in 2011, pulled up by a rise in the fourth quarter of the year, the manpower ministry said on Thursday.
However, the overall incidence of redundancy continued to decline to a new low due to a larger employment base.
The rate of re-entry into employment also improved for the second successive year.
These are the key findings from the “Redundancy And Re-entry Into Employment, 2011” report released by the Ministry of Manpower’s Research and Statistics Department.
In the whole of 2011, some 9,990 workers were made redundant, up slightly from 9,800 in 2010.
This translated to 5.5 workers made redundant for every 1,000 employees in 2011, down from 5.7 in 2010.
Re-entry into employment has improved. Seven in 10, or 70 per cent, of residents made redundant in the first three quarters of 2011 re-entered employment by December 2011, or within 12 months of redundancy.
This was an increase from 66 per cent experienced by the previous cohort in 2010 and 65 per cent for the 2009 cohort.
The average (mean) time taken to secure re-entry into employment was 2.1 months, similar to the 2010 cohort, after declining from the 2.7 months for the 2009 cohort during the recession.
The younger as well as those laid off from clerical, sales and service jobs took the shortest time to find another job.
Workers from the manufacturing sector remained the most vulnerable to redundancy, with 11 workers made redundant for every 1,000 in 2011.
This was significantly more than in services (3.8 per 1,000) and construction (4.2 per 1,000).
With a decline in layoffs in construction from 1,350 in 2010 to 1,050 in 2011, the sector’s share of redundancy fell from 14 per cent to 11 per cent.
Manufacturing’s share dipped slightly, from 46 per cent to 45 per cent, with a marginal decline in workers affected from 4,490 to 4,460.
Reflecting their growing share of the workforce, layoffs in services increased from 3,960, or 40 per cent of workers made redundant in 2010, to 4,430 or 44 per cent in 2011.
Layoffs fell for clerical, sales & service and production & related workers, but rose for professionals, managers, executives & technicians (PMETs).
While the share of redundancy taken by production & related workers declined from 50 per cent to 48 per cent over the year, they were still the highest among the three broad occupational groups.
They remained more vulnerable with 7.3 workers made redundant among every 1,000 workers, compared with 5.5 among PMETs and 2.6 among clerical, sales & service workers.
PMETs accounted for 42 per cent or 4,170 of the workers displaced, while the remaining 11 per cent or 1,080 were clerical, sales & service workers.
Layoffs increased slightly over the year for both residents and non-residents.
But the increase was smaller for residents ‒ at 1.3 per cent for residents and 2.9 per cent for non-residents.
The residents’ share of redundancy fell over the year by 0.4 percentage point to 57.4 per cent in 2011.
This was lower than the residents’ share of the workforce at 67.2 per cent in 2011.
Restructuring of business processes for greater efficiency was the top reason for redundancy, accounting for 34 per cent of layoffs.
This was followed by labour cost at 30 per cent.
Reorganisation of businesses and high operating cost excluding labour cost each accounted for about 25 per cent.
Reflecting the slowing economic growth, the share of workers made redundant due to downturn in the industry increased to 19 per cent in 2011 from 17 per cent in 2010.