Employment growth at 12-year low last year: Manpower Ministry

February 1, 201610:01 am296 views
Employment growth at 12-year low last year: Manpower Ministry
Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say at a media briefing on the workforce on Jan 28, 2016. (Photo: Calvin Hui)

While the unemployment rate in Singapore remained low last year, total employment growth slowed to a 12-year low, according to preliminary estimates released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Thursday (Jan 28).

The overall unemployment rate in 2015 was 1.9 per cent – broadly unchanged since 2011 – with the unemployment rate for residents at 2.8 per cent and for citizens at 2.9 per cent, the ministry said.

However, total employment growth for the year slowed to 0.9 per cent – the lowest year-on-year growth since 2003, MOM said.

Employment of locals increased marginally by 100 in 2015, after growing strongly by 96,000 in 2014. The numbers largely reflect the exit of casual workers in retail trade, and slowdown in sectors such as manufacturing (including marine) and real estate services, the ministry said. This was partially offset by job growth in sectors such as administrative and support services, community, social and personal services, professional services as well as financial and insurance services.

Foreign employment, excluding foreign domestic workers, moderated last year, growing by 22,600 or 2 per cent. This is slightly lower than 2014, but significantly lower when compared to levels in 2011 to 2013, MOM said.


Looking ahead, the local workforce will continue to grow but at a slower pace as more baby boomers approach retirement age, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said at a media briefing on Thursday.

He projected that growth would moderate to about 1 per cent over the next five years, from 2016 to 2020.

The growth of the foreign workforce in Singapore, on the other hand, will taper to about 2 per cent over the next five years, according to the minister.

As such, total workforce growth will be at around 1 to 2 per cent, and this is unlikely to change beyond the next five years, he added.


Mr Lim said given the slow projected workforce growth, it was crucial for Singapore to turn its human resources into human capital by finding ways to improve the labour force participation rate.

Possible ways to do this were job redesign, flexi-work arrangements and extending the reemployment age, he said.

He also said it was important for the economy to become more manpower-lean while simultaneously increasing productivity.

“If Singapore-based enterprises cannot grow profitably, eventually we are going to see a holding out of certain sectors of the economy,” he said.

“The job growth will slow down but we hope that the quality should continue to improve. And this would mean good jobs and better careers for the workforce.”

Mr Lim added that his focus will be on the “double weak” – companies which are weak in the Singaporean core and are not contributing much to the economy.

“So within the sector, you may have certain pockets of the sub-sectors, whereby the Singaporean core is weak – they are dominated mainly by foreign manpower. And yet at the same time, their impact – their economic impact, social impact – may not necessarily be very strong,” he explained.

“So if that’s the case, shouldn’t we adopt a tighter policy? If you are mainly employing foreigners, at the same time they’re not making a significant contribution to the economy and society, then what is your role here?”


For the fourth quarter, the unemployment rate dipped from 2 per cent in September to 1.9 per cent in December 2015, said MOM. Unemployment among residents eased slightly from 3 per cent to 2.9 per cent, while unemployment among citizens fell from 3.1 per cent to 3 per cent.

Also in the fourth quarter, total employment growth was higher than the previous quarter, coming in at 15,500 compared to 12,600. But this is lower than a year before, when total employment growth reached 40,700 in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Meanwhile, median income grew strongly for citizens in 2015. Nominal median monthly income from work of full-time employed citizens, including employer CPF contribution, rose by 6.5 per cent to S$3,798 in June 2015, or 7 per cent in real terms.

However, redundancy increased in the fourth quarter of 2015, as 4,200 workers were laid off, higher than the 3,460 layoffs in the previous quarter and 3,910 the year before. The majority of the increase in layoffs stemmed from the manufacturing and services sectors, the ministry said.


news source & image credits: channelnewsasia.com

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