The employment outlook in Singapore is tipped to stay favourable in the first three months of next year, says the Manpower employment group.

And Singapore is expected to remain among the few hot job markets in a world where landing a job is still challenging and uncertain, it said in a report released yesterday with the results of its latest Employment Outlook Survey. "Singapore employers report favourable hiring prospects for 1Q 2014," it said.

Of the 674 employers polled here, 19 per cent said they expect to recruit staff; 3 per cent said they would trim staff. This yields a net employment outlook of 16 per cent. Another 67 per cent said they will be in a holding pattern in staffing levels.

After adjusting for seasonal factors, Singapore's net employment outlook for the first quarter of 2014 is 16 per cent. This is five percentage points down from the figure in the previous quarter, and six percentage points up from a year ago. Bosses here are likely to step up hiring in all the seven sectors covered in the survey, with the finance, insurance & real-estate sector likely to see the biggest jump (+24 per cent in net employment outlook).

Linda Teo, Manpower's country manager in Singapore, said: "We believe employment in the banking sector will rise due to business expansion of banks and financial institutions."

The report said solid payroll gains are also likely in Q1 2014 in transportation & utilities, where the net employment outlook is +23 per cent.

Active labour markets are also tipped for both public administration & education (+21 per cent) and services (+21 per cent).

"A strong upbeat hiring pace is expected in the coming quarter for the services sector as with past trends. Hiring plans improve considerably year over year," Ms Teo said.

The wholesale & retail trade sector is to record the most upbeat hiring prospects since Q4 2011, with a net employment outlook of +18 per cent. Manufacturing is the least optimistic at +13 per cent. Still, against the previous quarter, the employment outlook dipped in four of the seven sectors. Public administration & education and finance, insurance & real estate posted the two biggest drops of 14 and 12 percentage points respectively in net employment outlook.

Three sectors improved on their employment outlook. Transportation & utilities goes up 13 percentage points; services, by four percentage points, and wholesale & retail trade, also by four percentage points. Hiring intentions are better in five of the seven sectors year on year. Transportation & utilities' employment outlook is up 14 percentage points, while that for services, by 11 percentage points.

Mining & construction and public administration & education were the two sectors that had weaker year-on-year employment outlook numbers.

Globally, the majority of the 65,000 employers in Manpower's survey plan to recruit more in the first three months of 2014, with payroll additions outpacing reductions in 34 of the 42 markets.

Employers in Taiwan (+39 per cent), India (+33 per cent) and New Zealand (+21 per cent) report the strongest first-quarter hiring plans. The weakest and only negative net employment plans are in Italy, Ireland, Finland, Spain, Slovakia and Belgium. Singapore's net employment outlook is only just below New Zealand's.

Some 21 of the job markets are more upbeat than three months ago, while 15 have grown more gloomy.