Skip to main content

Singapore Citizens Benefit From Record Employment Creation, Securing Good Quality Jobs

Singapore citizens have benefited from the strong economic growth, with many taking on the new jobs created, resulting in a record number and proportion of Singapore citizens in employment. The jobs created for Singaporeans were also of good quality. These are the key findings of two periodic studies by the Ministry of Manpower's Research and Statistics Department. The first study seeks to estimate the employment of Singapore citizens, permanent residents and foreigners, while the second study examines the quality of employment creation for Singapore citizens.

2.   The strong economy from 2004 to 2006 generated robust employment growth of 360,700 over the three years, with citizens, permanent residents and foreigners all registering strong employment gains. 141,700 of the jobs created went to Singapore citizens, 62,500 to permanent residents, and the remaining 156,500 to foreigners.

3.   Encouraged by the economic upturn, more Singapore citizens have entered the labour market and secured employment in recent years. In 2006, employment of Singapore citizens rose by a record high of 64,6001, surpassing the gains of 45,000 in 2005 and 32,000 in 2004. The strong job gains in 2006 have led to a record high proportion of Singapore citizens being employed, with slightly over three in four (76%) Singapore citizens aged 25 to 64 in employment in 20062.

4.   With the lowest unemployment in ten years3 and employment at an all-time high, the number of available Singaporean citizens to take up new jobs over the next few years, will shrink. This is already occurring as shown by the proportion of employment gains going to Singapore citizens, which dropped from 45% in 2004 to 40% in 2005 and to 37% in 2006. This is typical of periods of robust and sustained economic growth, with strong employment creation. Going forward, as a result of falling fertility and ageing, we will have to tap on older workers and women to maintain the size of our citizen workforce.

5.   As at December 2006, there were 2,495,900 persons employed in Singapore. Out of every ten persons working, six were Singapore citizens (60% or 1,498,500), one was permanent resident (241,100 or 9.7%) and the remaining three were foreigners (30% or 756,300).

6.   The services sector generated the bulk of the jobs created for Singapore citizens. Close to seven out of ten (69%) of the services workforce were Singapore citizens as at December 2006. Permanent residents made up 9.5%, while foreigners formed the remaining 22% of the workforce in the sector. Foreigners have a higher employment share in manufacturing and construction where many of them take up jobs that are labour-intensive, have more demanding working conditions (e.g. clean-room environment and 12-hour shifts) and hence are less attractive to Singapore citizens. Less than half (44%) of the employed in manufacturing were Singapore citizens in December 2006. The share of foreigners and permanent residents in manufacturing were 45% and 11% respectively. In construction, foreigners made up the majority or three out of five persons (61%) employed in the sector. The proportion of construction workforce who were Singapore citizens and permanent residents were 31% and 8.2% respectively.

7.   The study on “Quality of Employment Creation for Singapore citizens” found that the vast majority (95%) of jobs gained by Singapore citizens from 1997 to 2007 went to professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMET), mostly paying above the median income4. Professionals contributed 40% to the growth, followed by technicians & associate professionals at 28%, managers at 25% and working proprietors, 2.4%.

8.   Clerical, sales & service workers posted modest gains amounting to 5.4% of the employment growth over the decade. On the other hand, the employment of production & transport operators, cleaners & labourers fell slightly (-0.6%). Although there were gains in cleaners & labourers (27%) within the category, this was offset by losses in plant machine operators & assemblers (-18%) and production craftsmen (-9.3%), as manufacturers shifted their lower-end production to cheaper locations overseas.

9.   Amid the strong economic growth over the past three years, the employment gains were more widely spread across the occupational groups. More Singaporeans were employed in clerical, sales & service jobs while plant & machine operator and production craftsman jobs registered small gains. Nevertheless, 64% of jobs gained by Singapore citizens from 2004 to 2007 still went to PMETs. Consequently, 45% of Singapore citizens in the workforce were in PMET jobs in 2007, up from 39% a decade ago. On the other hand, the share of production & related workers declined from 31% to 28% and clerical, sales & service workers from 30% to 27%.

10.   Singapore citizens, permanent residents and foreigners have all benefited from Singapore's economic growth, supported by our flexible and responsive foreign worker policies which have helped us keep our workforce globally competitive. In times of strong economic growth, such as the present, foreigners help to meet businesses' need for more workers, enabling the economy to grow beyond what our indigenous workforce can support.

For More Information

11.   The reports are available online on the Ministry of Manpower's website.



1For the period covered by the study (1997 – 2006).  Nevertheless the gain in employment for Singapore citizens in 2006 had exceeded either the local or total employment gains in the earlier years, and is thus a record high in absolute terms.  

2The data series for employment rate, compiled from the mid-year Labour Force Survey, starts from 1991.

3The unemployment rate was 1.6% (overall) and 2.3% (residents) in Dec 2007, both of which were at 10-year low.   

4Occupational wage data can be obtained from the Report on Wages in Singapore, 2006.