KUALA LUMPUR — Pandemic-stricken Singapore has seen its steepest drop in employment since the Severe Acute Respiratory System (SARS) outbreak of 2002-3.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Manpower announced that 19,900 jobs were shed during the first quarter of 2020, many of them in “consumer-facing food & beverage services and retail trade, and tourism-dependent accommodation,” which the ministry stated were among the sectors “most severely affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.”
The job losses exceed those seen during the global financial crisis of 2008-9, when trade and investment-dependent Singapore was the first East or South-East Asian country to fall into recession.
Singapore has the world’s fourth-highest gross domestic product per capita, according to International Monetary Fund rankings, and its overall unemployment rate remains a low 2.4 per cent.
The pandemic and lockdowns have driven unemployment in Western countries – many with similar income levels to Singapore’s – into double figures.
Worldwide, at least 3 million people have been infected with Covid-19 and nearly 220,000 have died after contracting the disease, including 14 in Singapore.
Though its death toll is one of the world’s lowest, Singapore’s Covid-19 caseload has climbed fifteen-fold in April, with Wednesday’s 690 new cases taking the total to 15,641, the third-highest in Asia after China and India.
Most of those infected are low-wage migrant workers living cheek-by-jowl in dozens of massive dormitories.
The surge forced Singapore to impose an economically-debilitating lockdown on April 7 – after the period covered in today’s new employment data.
Singapore’s central bank warned on Tuesday that the economy could shrink by at least 4 per cent in 2020.Show