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Labour Force in Singapore Advance Release 2018


  1. Labour market outcomes in June 2018 improved compared to a year ago. Employment has grown. The employment rate remained high for residents aged 25 to 64, and continued to rise firmly for older residents aged 65 & over. Over the same period, the resident unemployment rate moderated for both PMETs1 and non-PMETs. The real median income also continued to grow in the recent five years. These are the key findings from the “Labour Force in Singapore Advance Release 2018”, an annual report released by the Manpower Research and Statistics Department.2

    Main Findings

  2. The employment rate stayed high at around 80% for residents aged 25 to 64. Singapore ranks favourably compared with OECD economies (8th), especially in terms of full-time employment rate (4th). 
  3. Efforts to improve the employability of older workers encouraged more to stay on, and those previously outside the labour force to return to employment. The employment rate for older residents aged 65 & over continued to rise, from 25.8% in June 2017 to 26.8% in June 2018.  
  4. This has helped to offset the impact of ageing on the labour force participation rate. The labour force participation rate for residents aged 15 & over has broadly stabilised in the recent four years (67.7% in June 2018), following an earlier uptrend.
  5. Workers continued to earn higher incomes in the recent five years. The real median income3 growth of full-time employed residents grew by 3.5% p.a.p from 2013 to 2018, significantly higher than the previous five years (1.9% p.a.).
  6. Sustained efforts to raise the incomes of low-wage workers helped real income growth at the 20th percentile (4.2% p.a.P) exceed growth at the median (3.5% p.a.P) in the recent five years, narrowing the gap with the median worker4. Their income growth was also significantly higher than in the preceding five years.
  7. As more job seekers found work, we saw a broad-based moderation in unemployment rate for PMETs and non-PMETs.  The unemployment rate for PMETs aged 50 & over softened even as their long-term unemployment rate rose. This suggests that while such PMETs benefitted from improved labour market conditions, there remains a group who face greater difficulty returning to the workforce.
  8. Although the time-related under-employment rate rose, there was no evidence of an increase in involuntary time-related under-employment, as the proportion of part-timers who wanted to work additional hours but could not find a full-time job was largely the same.


  9. The labour market improved from June 2017 to June 2018 as economic activity picked up. Nonetheless, structural challenges remain. Our ageing population continues to exert downward pressure on the labour force participation rate.  Together with slower population growth, expansion of the resident labour supply is expected to moderate.
  10. The Ministry of Manpower and Workforce Singapore will continue to work closely with unions, companies and jobseekers to address jobs-skills mismatches, match Singaporeans to good jobs and careers, and enable older Singaporeans who are able and willing to continue working to do so. Businesses should also continue to transform and grow to become more productive, improve job quality, as well as invest in their workers.

    For More Information

  11. The report is available online on the Ministry of Manpower’s statistics website at A full report of the survey findings will be published in the “Labour Force in Singapore 2018” report on 31 January 2019.


  1. Professionals, managers, executives & technicians.
  2. Data in the report are based on the Comprehensive Labour Force Survey conducted in mid-2018. The data pertain to the resident population, comprising Singapore citizens and permanent residents.
  3. Including employer CPF contributions.
  4. Refers to the ratio of the median income to the 20th percentile income of full-time employed residents.
  5. P Preliminary as the full year CPI data for 2018 is not available yet.