Singapore Job Vacancies on the Rise BUT…


Near Record High

In December the Singapore Ministry of Manpower quietly published its manpower statistics for Q3 2018. What this revealed was strong growth in Job Vacancies from 58,100 to 63,300. This was an increase of 8.6% quarter on quarter but not something we weren’t anticipating, as mentioned in my previous blog Singapore Job Market – Q3 is the new Q2 which suggested that we would continue to see positive growth in Q3. Indeed, Singapore has experienced strong growth in job numbers each quarter since the end of 2017 as shown in the graphic below. What is more interesting though is that the total number of vacancies is close to the all-time high of 67,400 experienced back in 2014.


Prediction for Q4

Although we have seen strong quarter on quarter growth throughout 2018, experience does tell us that job numbers will have fallen off again in Q4 as the hiring year comes to an end. Saying that at Elliott Scott HR in Singapore we continued to experience a healthy flow of new vacancies, be it more at the junior to mid-level as the year end approached. We found that several employers were keen to push through hiring decisions in December in order to avoid losing their headcount, while sign on bonuses were becoming more frequent, more so than has been the case for quite a number of years.


Predictions for 2019

So will the positive market conditions continue in 2019? It’s difficult to predict of course but we know that there are a number of macro-economic and political factors that could impede growth, including depressed global markets, Brexit, trade wars and US political uncertainty. Let’s take the Stock Market and in particular the Singapore Stock Market. The graphic below shows the continued drop in STI, shown in black, since the beginning of 2018. Overall, we see there is a good correlation between the two indices with vacancies roughly following stock market trends with a lag of about three months. Although we don’t yet have the Q4 job vacancy figures we can safely assume these will be down on Q3. Interestingly the graphic suggests that job vacancies could be in for quite a shock as we move into 2019.



Comparison against Hong Kong

If we compare job numbers between Hong Kong and Singapore we can see that broadly Hong Kong and Singapore experience similar ebbs and flows, although the major take away from below is that we see that Hong Kong (in black) reached a peak in Q2 of 2018 while Singapore (in blue) continued to grow. That said, Hong Kong has a more traditional annual jobs cycle with vacancies typically peaking in Q2 rather than Singapore’s more recent trend of peaking in Q3.



Comparison against the United States

For further clues we have taken a look at what has happened compared to the US. Although it’s more of a bumpy ride in the States, we can see that overall the trajectory of job vacancies is upwards and certainly the long term direction of the last four years is clearer than in Singapore. Significantly US figures in Q3 show a rise compared to the previous quarter with no indications of job numbers falling off.




In conclusion, although there are undoubtedly a number of challenges as we head into 2019 it would seem that we shouldn’t be running to panic stations just yet. Stock markets have had a good start to the year, be it for a few days only, and tensions in trade wars seem to be thawing. In short we expect cautious growth in job vacancies in 2019, perhaps just not quite as buoyant as we experienced in 2018.  


For Elliott Scott HR Singapore, the majority of demand currently for HR professionals is for generalists/business partners with a lot of interest from SME’s and startups. In terms of industries we are experiencing continued demand for HR professionals in IT (including cloud, software, fintech and e-commerce), professional services, real estate and insurance.


If you would like to discuss the job market in Singapore or your HR recruitment needs, get in touch at

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