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Labour Market, 2011

15 March 2012

  1. Despite slower GDP growth, employment creation remained strong in 2011 while unemployment rate improved to a 14-year low. Amid the tight labour market, workers’ earnings have risen. Meanwhile, growth in labour productivity slowed, following the sharp rebound in the preceding year.
  2. Supported by hiring for the festive season, employment growth strengthened in the fourth quarter of 2011 (37,600) from the preceding quarter (31,900) and the fourth quarter of 2010 (33,900). For the whole year, total employment increased by 122,600 (or 3.9%) in 2011, slightly higher than the gains of 115,900 (or 3.9%) in 2010.
  3. A large majority of the employment gains continued to come from services in 2011 (96,100), though this was lower than in 2010 (112,600). Boosted by public projects, construction employment rose by 22,000, much higher than the gains of 3,400 in 2010. Manufacturing employment grew by only 3,400, as gains totalling 4,800 in the first three quarters offset the losses of 1,400 in the fourth quarter.
  4. With slower resident population growth and most economically active residents already employed, local employment grew by 37,900 or 1.9% in 2011, lower than the 56,200 or 2.9% increase in 2010. In response to strong manpower demand, foreign employment increased by 84,800 or 7.6% in 2011, following the gains of 59,700 or 5.7% in 2010. Excluding foreign domestic workers (FDWs), foreign employment rose by 79,800 or 8.8%, after increasing by 54,400 or 6.3% in 2010.
  5. As at December 2011, there were 1,197,900 foreigners employed in Singapore. Excluding FDWs, the foreigners’ share of employment was 32.8% in December 2011, up from 31.4% a year ago.
  6. For the whole of 2011, the unemployment rate averaged 2.0% overall, 2.9% for residents and 3.0% for Singapore citizens. These rates were the lowest recorded in 14 years. On average, 60,600 residents including 52,900 Singapore citizens were unemployed in 2011. The corresponding figures in 2010 were 64,800 and 57,700.
  7. Long-term unemployment continued to improve. 11,500 unemployed residents making up 0.5% of the resident labour force in December 2011 had been looking for work for at least 25 weeks, down from 12,300 or 0.6% a year ago. For the whole of 2011, the resident long-term unemployment rate and number averaged 0.6% and 12,200, down from 0.7% and 13,700 in 2010.
  8. Layoffs increased in the fourth quarter of 2011, resulting in a slightly higher number of workers affected in the whole year than in 2010. 3,250 workers were made redundant in the fourth quarter of 2011, higher than the 1,960 laid off in the preceding quarter. For the full year of 2011, 9,990 workers were made redundant, slightly higher than the 9,800 in 2010.
  9. Based on CPF records, nearly six in ten (59%) residents laid off in the third quarter of 2011 secured employment by December 2011. This rate of re-entry into employment within six months of redundancy dipped slightly from 60% in September 2011, after rising for three consecutive quarters.
  10. Job vacancies declined by 4.3% over the quarter to 51,700 in December 2011, but was still 17% higher compared to a year ago (44,100). After adjusting for seasonality, job vacancies increased over the quarter by 13%, reversing from the decline of 13% in September 2011. As unemployment was broadly unchanged over the quarter, the seasonally adjusted ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons edged up from 1.15 in September 2011 to 1.18 in December 2011. Nevertheless, this was significantly lower than the recent peak of 1.39 in March 2011.
  11. The average monthly recruitment rate edged up slightly in the fourth quarter of 2011. The seasonally adjusted rate was 2.8% compared with 2.7% in the previous quarter. On the other hand, the average monthly resignation rate eased by 0.2%-point to a seasonally adjusted 1.9%.
  12. Labour productivity declined over the year by 0.4% in the fourth quarter, after increasing by 2.0% in the previous quarter. For the whole of 2011, overall labour productivity increased by 1.0%, after rising sharply by 11% in 2010. The moderation in productivity gains resulted from the slower GDP growth amid continuing strong employment creation.
  13. Nominal average (mean) monthly earnings rose by 4.0% over the year in the fourth quarter of 2011, continuing the recent trend of slowing earnings growth starting from the second quarter. After adjusting for inflation, the real average earnings declined by 1.4% in the final quarter of 2011, after dipping by 0.2% in the preceding quarter. For the whole of 2011, nominal average earnings grew by 6.0%, after increasing by 5.6% in 2010. Weighed down by higher inflation in 2011, the real average earnings rose by 0.7%, following the gains of 2.7% in 2010.
  14. In summary, the unemployment rate declined to a 14-year low in 2011. With the tight labour market, workers’ earnings have risen. The growth in labour productivity has slowed amid the slowdown in output growth and continuing strong employment creation. With the economic outlook uncertain, hiring sentiments have continued to soften. Layoffs rose in the last quarter of 2011, though there was only a slight increase in the total number of affected workers in the whole year.

    For More Information
  15. The report is available online on the MOM's Statistics and Publications webpage.