Tony Cousens spent more than S$100,000 ($79,000) to find waiters and housekeepers for the Ramada and Days Hotels in Singapore. Months after the two establishments opened, he is still about 100 people short.
Cousens’s plight underscores the new reality for an economy that probably delivered the biggest employment surge among 33 advanced economies in the decade to 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Singapore’s annual jobs growth may halve in the coming years from a 2007 peak as the island widens a clampdown on foreign workers, Bank of America Corp. estimates.
“This tightening of the foreign-labor market won’t go away,” said Cousens, general manager of the two hotels in the city that charge as much as S$320 a night. Jobs take longer to fill, “especially if you’re very demanding on the culture and the behavior of the individuals and specifying Singaporeans,” he said.
The shortage is set to worsen as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong pursues a four-year campaign to reduce the reliance on foreign workers, whose growing presence pushed up home prices and spurred a voter backlash. The government may tighten rules on hiring non-Singaporean medium-skilled workers after previous measures restricted cheap overseas labor, according to DBS Group Holdings Ltd. (DBS), Mizuho Bank Ltd. and Bank of America.
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