How did Singapore’s labour market perform last year?
According to the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) advance release of the Labour Market Report 2017 on 26 January 2018, total employment declined for the first time since 2003.
The year 2003 was when Singapore was hit by the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) crisis and went into a downturn.
MOM said the drop in total employment is largely due to the continued decrease in work permit holders in the construction and marine sectors.
Labour Market Findings for 2017
Unemployment: The unemployment rate stood at 2.2 per cent, slightly higher than 2016’s 2.1 per cent. Overall, some 70,600 Singaporeans and permanent residents, including 62,600 citizens, were unemployed in 2017. The 2016 figures were lower at 67,400 and 59,100 respectively.
Employment: Local employment grew by an estimated 21,300, nearly double the growth in 2016. The increase was seen mostly in the services sectors like community, social and personal services, financial and insurance services and transportation and storage.
Meanwhile, foreign employment – excluding foreign domestic workers (FDWs) – continued to decline in 2017 mainly due to the decrease in Work Permit Holders.
In all, this has brought the total number of employed persons (excluding FDWs) in Singapore to 3,422,700 in December 2017, where two out of every three persons in employment were locals.
Retrenchments: Some 14,340 workers were retrenched, significantly lower than 2016’s figure of 19,170.
Real wages: Over the last five years from 2012 to 2017, the median real wage of full-time employed Singaporeans rose by 4.5 per cent per annum. The number was higher for low-wage Singaporeans at the 20th percentile – 4.9 per cent per annum.
Writing on his Facebook page, NTUC Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) Patrick Tay said he was encouraged with the healthy growth in citizen median income particularly for those in the 20th percentile.
“This is a sign that our tripartite efforts to equip workers, and help companies raise productivity and the value of jobs such as the progressive wage model are bearing fruit,” said Mr Tay.
According to MOM, local employment is expected to continue to grow in 2018, but there will be some unevenness across sectors.
As such, companies are encouraged to keep transforming to remain competitive and create better quality jobs for Singaporeans.