You already knew the economy was in trouble. But here are some cold, hard figures to back it up—In 2016, employment growth reached a 13-year low, while the unemployment rate was the highest it’s been in 6 years. The number of layoffs was the highest it’s been in 7 years, with 16,600 being retrenched.
Even those who managed to keep their jobs weren’t actually celebrating, since the median income for full-time workers ground to a halt at 1.3% in 2016–just for comparison’s sake, the median income growth for 2015 was 7%.
Despite the tough job market, more than a few Singaporeans are doing things they really shouldn’t, such as the following.
1. Quitting their jobs without another one lined up
Job-hopping has become a way of life for young Singaporean employees. A 2016 survey showed that despite tough economic conditions, 33% were hoping to change jobs that year.
That’s a very bad idea this year. By all means apply for new jobs or work with a recruiter if you have to. But 2017 is definitely not the year to decide your company’s pantry food sucks or that you hate your office’s interior design.
In fact, despite the official figures on employment growth, your sector may be doing even worse. For instance, financial services did dismally in 2016, and the finance and insurance sector shrank 11.2% in the second quarter of last year.
2. Not upgrading their skills
A lot has been said about the $500 SkillsFuture credit the government has bestowed upon every Singaporean aged 25 and above. The programme has received lots of publicity, so it’s safe to say that most people know it exists. While 380,000 people used SkillsFuture credits in 2016, there are far more who haven’t.
If we’re completely honest with ourselves, many employees here take a very passive view of their jobs, wanting nothing more than to get paid for and enjoy increments for doing the same thing every year. These are also the same people who’ll be in danger when their companies decide to cut the fat.
3. Getting into debt
With our jobs in greater danger and income growth slowing, getting into debt is a bad idea if you can help it—especially high interest debt like credit card debt, or debt for depreciating assets like cars.
A recent report revealed that Singaporeans have been taking out bigger car loans ever since MAS eased restrictions on motor vehicle financing. Household debt is rising, which could indicate that people’s purchasing power is falling.
While some amount of indebtedness may be unavoidable in the case of those who wish to purchase homes, it’s advisable to be more prudent than you have been in previous years.
Don’t overstretch yourself when it comes to looking for a home, be meticulous about paying off your credit cards in full every month and don’t choose 2017 to be the year you decide to realise your lifelong dream of buying that mid-life Porsche.
4. Avoid unnecessary overspending
Just as you should be warier about getting into debt from now on, it’s time to stop thinking you can spend like crazy today because there’s more money to be made tomorrow. The days of plenty are over, and it’s time to tighten our belts.
That means avoiding splurging on big ticket item and events if you can help it.
You probably should not decide to throw a gigantic wedding banquet anytime soon—you and your SO will be even more happily married without that wedding arch made of flowers air-flown from Europe.
And if you simply must go on that end-of-year holiday to Europe, consider renting cheap rooms on Airbnb rather than booking into “romantic” five star hotels.
5. Being too picky about job offers
Beggars can’t be choosers. Due to slow employment growth and contraction in some sectors, jobs will be much harder to come by this year than they were in 2015 and earlier.
Still, for some Singaporeans, it will be necessary to look for a new job this year, whether out of necessity due to retrenchment, or due to other factors, such as career stagnation.
You might not receive dazzling offers or command astronomical pay hikes just by changing jobs this year. But keep your eye on the goal—if you’re switching jobs for a good reason, there’s no point being overly picky if the change would still help you in your career.
Are your career and spending choices going to be affected by the current job market? Tell us in the comments!