THE hiring pace is likely to continue to be conservative in the next three months in Singapore, with a slight dip from a year ago, according to the latest ManpowerGroup survey.
Of the 700 bosses polled by the US-based employment firm, 13 per cent saw a rise in staffing levels in the April-June quarter, 5 per cent anticipated a decline and 81 per cent expected no changes.
The “net employment outlook” (the percentage of employers who projected an increase in recruitment minus the percentage who tipped a drop) is +8 per cent – even after adjusting for seasonal factors. This is the same for the first quarter, suggesting that hiring intentions in the second quarter are likely to stay relatively stable quarter on quarter.
But compared to a year ago, the net employment outlook for the next three months dipped two percentage points.
“Hiring sentiment is moderate, as the market remains clouded in uncertainty with the election of Mr Trump as US president and the US’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” said Linda Teo, ManpowerGroup Singapore’s country manager. “In general, companies will definitely still need to hire but many of them lack the budget for permanent headcounts and are thus using agency contracting as a workaround.”
The picture is mixed across sectors, with manufacturing and finance, insurance & real estate reporting weaker hiring plans than in the first quarter. The public administration & education, transportation & utilities and mining & construction sectors are likely to employ more staff.
Six of the seven sectors are expected to take in more workers in the second quarter. The public administration & education sector, which has the highest net employment outlook of +17 per cent (seasonally adjusted), is tipped to absorb the highest number of the increase. Finance, insurance & real estate, with an outlook of +16 per cent, is likely to see steady hirings.
Wholesale trade & retail, the only sector that reported a negative employment outlook of -1 per cent, faces an uncertain hiring climate.
“The high point of retail, the Christmas and Chinese New Year festive season, is over,” Ms Teo said. “Furthermore, intense pressure from online retailers and lacklustre consumer sentiment has resulted in the second consecutive quarter of negative outlooks for the wholesale trade & retail trade sector.”
Quarter on quarter, hiring plans have strengthened in five of the seven sectors. Most, including public administration & education and transportation & utilities, intend to hire more in the next three months.
But the manufacturing and finance, insurance & real estate sectors are planning to trim hirings by four and three percentage points respectively.
Compared to a year ago, three sectors have reported stronger hiring intentions. The public administration & education sector plans to increase employment by 11 percentage points and transportation & utilities by eight percentage points.
The outlook has weakened for three sectors, including wholesale trade & retail trade and mining & construction.
Within the Asia-Pacific region, all eight markets covered in the survey are likely to see bigger recruitment in the next three months. Quarter on quarter, net employment outlook has fallen in three of the markets, four stayed the same and one improved.
Against a year ago, the hiring pace is expected to be better in four markets and decline in four.
For the second straight quarter, Taiwan has the most upbeat jobs forecast, both in the region and globally. The prospect for China remains the weakest after four consecutive quarters of disappointments.
(THE BUSINESS TIMES)