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Report on Labour Force in Singapore, 2006: Strong Labour Force Growth amid Record High Employment

Amid the robust economic expansion over the past two years, the labour force expanded by 5.2% p.a. from June 2004 to 2.59 million in June 2006, well above the average growth of 2.5% p.a. over the decade.  A record high proportion of the resident population were in employment while unemployment dropped to a five-year low for June periods.

2.   The key findings of the annual 'Report on Labour Force in Singapore, 2006' from the Ministry of Manpower's Research and Statistics Department are highlighted below:

  • In June 2006, a record number of residents were employed. 1.80 million residents were employed, a significant increase from 1.46 million in June 1996.
  • 76% of the resident population aged 25 to 64 were employed, the highest since the data was first compiled in 1991, up from 73% in 1996.
  • Most of the new jobs taken up by residents were higher value added, although gains were more widely spread over the past two years. Consequently, the share of Professionals, Managers, Executives & Technicians (PMETs) in the resident workforce rose from 39% in 1996 to 47% in 2006, mainly at the expense of production & related workers which declined from 32% to 27%.
  • Buoyed by the economic upturn, unemployment improved to a five-year low for June periods. Overall, 4.5% of the resident labour force was unemployed in June 2006, down from 5.8% in June 2004 but above the 3.1% a decade ago (non-seasonally adjusted1). Supported by the robust economic conditions, resident job seekers took shorter time to secure employment. In June 2006, the median duration of resident unemployment was 8 weeks compared to 12 weeks for 2002 to 2005 (June periods).
  • The median gross monthly income2 of full-time employed residents was $2,170 in June 2006, representing an increase of 2.9% p.a. over the decade. After adjusting for inflation, the growth in real terms was 2.2% p.a.
  • 12% or 172,000 of resident employees were engaged on term contracts in June 2006 while the remaining 88% were permanent employees3. On average, employees on term contract drew lower pay than those on permanent appointments.
  • Reflecting the ageing population, a higher share of the resident labour force were aged 40 & above (52%) compared with a decade ago (40%).
  • The educational profile of the labour force continues to improve with the inflow of better educated new entrants into the labour market. The share of degree holders almost doubled to 23% from 12% a decade ago. Nevertheless, there was still a sizeable pool of 532,400 residents without secondary qualifications, forming 28% of the resident labour force in June 2006. However, this has come down from 586,300 or 39% in June 1996.
  • Some 31% of residents aged 15 to 64 in the labour force were involved in some form of job-related structured training4 over the 12-month period ending June 2006. This is higher than 27% in 2005 and 25% in 2004.

3.   The report presents a wide range of statistical information on the economic activities of the population, including detailed information on employment and unemployment as well as the characteristics of the labour force and economically inactive persons. It also examines a wide range of topics including self-employment, hours worked, years in current job and methods of job search.

4.   The publication is divided into three parts. The first part analyses the major trends and changes to the labour force. The second part on survey methodology describes the objective and coverage, concepts and definitions, sampling design and reliability of data as well as other operational aspects of the survey. Detailed data on the labour force and economically inactive population are available by various socio-demographic and economic characteristics in a total of 76 statistical tables in the third part of the report.

For More Information

5.   The report is available online on the Ministry of Manpower's website.

1 The corresponding seasonally adjusted figures were 3.6% in June 2006, as against 4.8% in June 2004 and 2.3% in June 1996.
2 Data on gross monthly income exclude National Servicemen.3 Employees on term contracts refer to those on fixed-term contract of employment that will terminate on the expiry of a specific term (e.g. 1 or 2 year) unless it is renewed, as well as those on casual/on-call employment (i.e. where persons are employed on ad hoc basis, as and when the company requires additional manpower). On the other hand, permanent employees refer to those employed for an unspecified duration, i.e. they are not on term contracts.
4 Refers to training that is related to a current or future job. It includes classroom training, private lessons, correspondence courses, workshops, seminars, structured on-the-job and apprenticeship training but excludes informal on-the-job training.