Chart of the Week January 29, 2021: Change in Singapore’s Paid Working Hours in 2020


Singapore’s overall unemployment level climbed to a 16-year high in 2020, attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the ‘Job Support Scheme’, along with other policy measures arguably lessened the hit of COVID-19 on Singaporeans who managed to keep their jobs. This week’s chart shows the change in total paid working hours, as well as the change in paid overtime hours in 2020, when compared to the same quarter in the previous year.    


  • The overall reduction in total paid hours is primarily driven by the reduction of paid overtime hours, which proves the government’s policy to be somewhat effective in helping business to retain their employees. 
  • Among workers in all sectors, employees in manufacturing and construction were most severely affected by COVID-19. In Q2, workers in manufacturing reported 10% less total paid hours and workers in construction reported an average decrease of 3.8% in total paid hours. 
  • Almost all the industries are seen to initiate recovery by Q3, except for two industries. Workers in wholesale and retail trade, and workers in accommodation and food services witnessed further declination in their total paid working hours in Q3 compared to Q2.  
  • However, in wholesale and retail trade, the reduction in total paid time can be explained by reduction in total paid overtime. Meanwhile, in the accommodation and food services, the reduction in total paid hours exceeds the reduction in total paid overtime hours, since food and beverage outlets remain restricted throughout the three phases of re-opening. 

Article By BIAN, Xiaochen

Graphic By Shu En LEE

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