Skip to main content

Labour Market Advance Release 2015

Median income grew in 2015; total employment growth moderated


  1. Local employment growth moderated after exceptionally high growth in 2014. Growth in foreign employment has continued to slow since 2011. The resident and citizen unemployment rates remained low. There was sustained growth in median income for citizens. These are the key preliminary findings from the "Labour Market Advance Release 2015" reportreleased by the Manpower Research and Statistics Department, Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

    Main Findings

    Unemployment remained low
  2. Preliminary estimates showed that the overall seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dipped slightly from 2.0% in September 2015 to 1.9% in December 2015. Unemployment also eased among residents (3.0% to 2.9%) and citizens (3.1% to 3.0%). The annual average unemployment rate in 2015 was broadly unchanged since 2011 for overall (1.9%), residents (2.8%) and citizens (2.9%).

    Total employment growth has moderated amidst weaker economic conditions and tightened supply of foreign manpower
  3. Total employment growth was higher in the fourth quarter of 2015 (15,500) than in the previous quarter (12,600), but lower than in the fourth quarter of 2014 (40,700). 
  4. For the whole of 2015, total employment is estimated to have increased by 31,800 or 0.9%, which would be the lowest year-on-year growth since 2003. The moderation in total employment growth took place amidst sluggish global economic conditionsand slower growth of the Singapore economy, and tightened supply of foreign manpower.

    Employment of locals was flat after high growth in 2014
  5. Local employment increased marginally by an estimated 100 (or 0.0%) in 2015, after growing strongly by 96,000 in 2014. The flat employment growth largely reflected the exit of casual workers in Retail Trade and the slowdown in sectors such as Manufacturing (including Marine) and Real Estate Services. This was partially offset by local job growth in sectors such as Administrative and Support Services, Community, Social and Personal Services (CSP), Professional Services, as well as Financial and Insurance Services.

    Foreign employment (excl. Foreign Domestic Workers (FDW)) growth has moderated since 2011
  6. Foreign employment (excluding FDW) continued to grow at a moderate pace of an estimated (22,600, or 2.0%) in 2015, slightly lower than 2014, but significantly below the levels in 2011 to 2013. The growth in foreign employment was driven by the Services sector, at both the Work Permit Holders (WPH) and Employment Pass (EP) level. The Information and Communications sector accounted for the bulk of EP holder growth, while the Construction, Transport & Storage, Food & Beverage Services as well as Administrative and Support Services sectors contributed to the bulk of the growth in Work Permit Holders.

    Broad-based income growth for Singaporeans
  7. Median income grew strongly for citizens in 2015. The nominal median monthly income from work of full-time employed citizens (including employer CPF contributions) rose by 6.5% over the year to $3,798 in June 2015, or 7.0% in real terms3.
  8. There was a sustained rise in income at the median and 20th percentile over the last five years. The median income (including employer CPF contributions) of full-time employed citizens rose by 32% (5.6% p.a.) in nominal terms from 2010 to 2015, or 16% (3.0% p.a.) after adjusting for inflation. Amid on-going initiatives to boost income of low-wage workers, income at the 20th percentile of full-time employed citizens rose by 31% (5.5% p.a.) in nominal terms, or 16% (2.9% p.a.) in real terms.

    Redundancies rose amidst business restructuring 
  9. Redundancy increased in the fourth quarter of 2015. 4,200 workers were laid off in the fourth quarter of 2015, higher than in the preceding quarter (3,460) and the fourth quarter of 2014 (3,910). For the whole of 2015, redundancies rose to 14,400, going up steadily since 2010. The increase in layoffs stemmed from manufacturing and services.

  10. The moderated employment growth in 2015 reflects the weaker global economic conditions and our continued efforts to restructure towards a more productive and manpower-lean economy. As we continue our economic transition, MOM will step up our efforts with our tripartite partners to strengthen the Singaporean Core in the workforce while reducing over-reliance on and raising the quality of foreign manpower. Together, we seek to help Singaporeans take on good jobs, build fulfilling careers and enjoy sustained increases in real incomes.

    For More Information
  11. The report is available on the Ministry of Manpower’s website at


  1. Previously known as the “Employment Situation” Report
  2. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the world economy is expected to grow by 3.1% in 2015, its slowest pace of growth since 2009. Source: IMF World Economic Outlook Update, January 2016
  3. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all items fell by 0.5% in 2015