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Singapore Workforce, 2009

The global recession and its impact on Singapore led to a decline in the proportion of residents employed in Singapore in 2009, but older residents maintained their employment rate at the record high reached in 2008. Among those in employment, the median income stabilised after rising significantly over the preceding two years. As employers seek greater flexibility to manage manpower, term contract employment continued to increase, driven by those on short term contracts. These are the key findings from the comprehensive Labour Force Survey conducted in mid-2009 by the Ministry of Manpower's Research and Statistics Department.

Main Findings

2.   Reflecting faster growth in the resident population, the resident labour force rose by 3.0% over the year in June 2009, up from the increase of 2.7% in 2008 and 2.0% in 2007. As at June 2009, there were 1.99 million residents in the labour force comprising 1.13 million (57%) males and 0.86 million (43%) females.

3.   Amid the global recession, the proportion of residents aged 25 to 64 in employment fell for the first time in six years to 75.8% in June 2009 from the peak of 77.0% a year ago. This mainly reflected the decline in employment rate for residents in the prime-working age group of 25 to 54 from 81.4% to 80.1%.

4.   Despite the economic downturn, the employment rate of older residents aged 55 to 64 remained at the record high of 57.2% reached in 2008. In fact, the rate for older men increased from 73.8% in 2008 to a new high of 74.7% in 2009, offsetting the slight decrease for older women from 40.5% to 40.1%.

5.   Even though it had decreased, the employment rate for prime-working age men in Singapore remained higher than in many developed and Asian economies. The rate for older men in Singapore was also one of the highest internationally. On the other hand, the employment rate among females in Singapore generally lagged those in developed countries such as Sweden, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.

6.   As a result of the weak economy, growth in income from work was largely flat in 2009, following strong gains in the preceding two years. The median monthly income among full-timers rose slightly by 0.5% from $2,590 in June 2008 to $2,600 in June 2009, compared to gains of 11% in 2008 and 7.7% in 2007. Part-timers also posted higher median income of $620 compared with $600 a year ago. However, the median income for all employed residents dipped by 1.2% from $2,450 in 2008 to $2,420 in 2009, as part-timers' share of employment rose.

7.   The number of resident employees on term contracts rose 4.3% to 197,200 in 2009, faster than the 0.8% increase in permanent employees. Consequently, the share of resident employees on term contracts rose from 12.4% in 2008 to 12.7% in 2009, continuing the uptrend observed since the data were first collected in 2006. The growth in 2009 was mainly driven by those on short-term contracts of less than three months (including casual/on-call workers), reflecting economic uncertainty.

8.   There were 5.9% or 116,300 persons (non-seasonally adjusted) in the resident labour force who were unemployed in June 2009, significantly higher than 4.0% or 76,200 a year ago. The rise was felt across all occupations and industries. The unemployment rate increased over the year from 4.3% to 7.1% for production & related workers; sharper than the increase from 5.8% to 7.6% for clerical, sales & service workers; and 2.5% to 3.9% for professionals, managers, executives & technicians. Reflecting their higher incidence of layoffs, manufacturing saw a larger increase over the year in unemployment rate (from 3.8% to 6.4%) than construction (from 2.8% to 4.1%) and services (from 3.6% to 5.3%).

9.   More comprehensive data from the mid-year Labour Force Survey 2009 will be published in the Report on Labour Force in Singapore, 2009 on 1 February 2010.

For More Information

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