The Singapore finance sector just added 2,800 jobs, despite Covid-19

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The Singapore finance sector just added 2,800 jobs, despite Covid-19

If you are a banking professional in Singapore worried about when you will return to the office or how bad your 2020 bonus might be, spare a thought for people in other industries who have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 recession. As a sector, finance is coping with the pandemic comparatively well so far, new data released today by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) reveals.

There were 2,800 more jobs in “financial and insurance services” in Q1 compared with the previous quarter, according to MOM’s Labour Market Report. This rise, which exceeded those of the previous four quarters, took headcount in the sector to 203,600 (162,700 in financial services and the remainder in insurance).

By contrast, total employment in Singapore fell by 25,600 in Q1, the sharpest quarter-on-quarter contraction since comparable records began in 1991 as the uptick in finance was offset by declines in trade and tourism-related industries.

MOM classifies finance as among the “fairly resilient” sectors that suffered the “least impact” from Covid-19 in the opening quarter. Encouragingly for technology professionals, “information and communications” also falls under this category.

Still, those looking for work in the first quarter faced a more challenging job market than last year. Across global and local finance and insurance firms in Singapore, there were 4,600 vacancies in March this year compared with 5,300 in March 2019 – a fall of 13%, according to MOM. As we reported last week, however, global banks alone cut their Singapore vacancies by 35% year-on-year in May, according to separate data from analytics firm Burning Glass.

Despite the yearly decline, hiring in finance exceeded most other sectors in March, says the MOM report, adding that there were a “sizeable” number of openings.

The MOM data also supports statements made by DBS, OCBC, UOB and several global banks that they are not making layoffs during the pandemic. There were 310 retrenchments within financial and insurance services in Q1, 10 less than the previous quarter. Most other industries experienced a higher number of redundancies over the same period.

While MOM’s assessment of finance sector jobs in Q1 is upbeat, its half-year report could contain less optimistic data. During the initial four weeks of the first quarter Covid-19 had little impact on the local job market. Recruiters say banks in Singapore cut back their hiring more in the second quarter as the circuit breaker kicked in and the virus became a global pandemic, curtailing headcount budgets at foreign banks.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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