Employment Situation, 2012
Foreign Workforce Growth Slows, More Locals Employed
31 January 2013
- Local employment rose faster in 2012, as growth in foreign workers moderated amid the tightening in foreign manpower controls. With the high employment creation, unemployment remained low, despite a rise in layoffs. These are the key preliminary findings from the “Employment Situation, 2012” report released by the Ministry of Manpower’s Research and Statistics Department. More comprehensive labour market data will be released in the “Labour Market Report, 2012” on 15 March 2013.
- Supported by hiring for the festive season, the fourth quarter of 2012 saw higher employment growth. Preliminary estimates showed that total employment grew by 44,500 in the fourth quarter of 2012, up from the gains of 26,200 in the preceding quarter and 37,600 in the fourth quarter of 2011.
- For the whole of 2012, total employment increased by 129,600, slightly above the 122,600 in 2011. This mainly reflected the higher employment growth in construction (2012: 39,100; 2011: 22,000), boosted by public building projects. Excluding construction and foreign domestic workers, the increase in total employment at 87,200 in 2012 was lower than the 95,600 in 2011.
- Services continued to generate the majority of the total employment gains in 2012 (77,900), though this slowed from 2011 (96,100). Manufacturing added 11,100 workers in 2012, as gains mainly in chemical products outnumbered losses in electronics manufacturing.
- Local employment rose by 59,200, substantially higher than the gains of 37,900 in 2011. Amid the tightening in foreign manpower controls, the growth in foreign employment eased to 70,400 in 2012 from 84,800 in 2011. Excluding foreign domestic workers and construction, the growth in foreign employment was even lower at 32,200 in 2012, around half of the 60,200 in 2011.
- In December 2012, locals accounted for 66.4% of persons employed in Singapore (excluding foreign domestic workers). Foreigners formed the remaining 33.6%, compared with 32.8% in December 2011.
- Layoffs rose for the second consecutive quarter, reflecting the impact of economic slowdown and restructuring. Some 3,400 workers were laid off in the fourth quarter of 2012, up from 2,850 in the preceding quarter. For the full year of 2012, 11,000 workers were made redundant, higher than the 9,990 in 2011. Nevertheless, this was still less than the highs of 23,430 and 16,880 experienced during the last recession in 2009 and 2008 respectively.
- With the high employment creation, the seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rate dipped to 1.8% in December from 1.9% in September 2012. The decline in unemployment was also seen among residents from 2.8% to 2.6% and citizens from 3.0% to 2.9%. For the whole of 2012, the annual average unemployment rate remained at a low of 2.0% for overall and 3.0% for citizens, unchanged from 2011; while the resident unemployment rate dipped to 2.8% from 2.9%.
- Amid the tight labour market, the nominal income from work of Singaporeans continued to rise, though at a slower pace in 2012, reflecting the weaker economic conditions. The median monthly income from work (including employer CPF contributions) of full-time employed citizens rose over the year by 5.8% to $3,248 in 2012, down from the growth of 6.3% in 2011. Balanced by lower inflation,  the real median income growth was 1.2% in 2012, compared with 1.0% in 2011.
For More Information
- The “Employment Situation, 2012” report is available online on MOM's Statistics and Publications webpage. More comprehensive labour market data will be released in the “Labour Market Report, 2012” on 15 March 2013.
Data pertain to private establishments each with at least 25 employees and the public sector.
The Consumer Price Index for all items rose over the year by 4.6% in 2012, down from the increase of 5.2% in 2011.