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Labour Force in Singapore Advance Release 2019

Overview

1 Despite economic headwinds, the resident employment rate was higher in June 2019 than a year ago. More residents found jobs in professional services, financial & insurance services, information & communications and community, social & personal services[1]. The unemployment rate remains low. Real median income also continued to grow but at a slower pace. These are the key findings from the “Labour Force in Singapore Advance Release 2019”, an annual report released by the Manpower Research and Statistics Department[2]

Main Findings

2 The employment rate for residents aged 25 to 64 rose from 80.3% in June 2018 to 80.8% in June 2019. The employment rate for men stayed high while that for women continued to improve.

3 Sustained efforts to strengthen the employability of older workers boosted their employment rate. Among residents aged 65 & over, employment rate rose firmly from 26.8% to 27.6% over the year.

4 Workers’ income continued to grow, but at a slower pace. Real median income[3] of full-time employed residents grew by 2.2%P in 2019, lower than the growth of 4.4% in 2018. Nevertheless, the real median income growth of 3.8% p.a.P in the recent five years from 2014 to 2019 was significantly higher than the 1.9% p.a. in the preceding five years.

5 Helped by sustained efforts to raise incomes of low-wage workers, income at the 20th percentile increased by 4.4% p.a.P in real terms from 2014 to 2019, higher than the 3.8% p.a.P at the median and significantly higher than in the preceding five years.

6 Overall, the resident unemployment rate remained low in June 2019. The PMET unemployment rate (non-seasonally adjusted[4]) held steady at 2.9% in June 2019 while their long-term unemployment rate decreased from 0.8% in June 2018 to 0.6% in June 2019. More were hired in PMET-concentrated sectors such as modern services[5]. On the other hand, cyclical effects such as the US-China trade conflict that affected manufacturing output and retail trade caused the unemployment rate for non-PMETs to increase from 4.0% a year ago to 4.7% in June 2019. However, the increase in their long-term unemployment rate was slight, from 0.7% to 0.8%.

7 The proportion of resident employees on fixed-term contracts continued to increase from 7.2% in June 2018 to 7.6% in June 2019, suggesting greater caution among employers on hiring amid uncertainty. Despite dipping slightly in proportion from 89.4% to 89.3%, there were more permanent employees in 2019 compared to 2018, and they continued to form the vast majority of resident employees. The proportion of casual/on-call employees continued to decrease, reflecting the improvement in education profile of the labour force.

Conclusion

8 Notwithstanding increasing economic headwinds, resident employment continued to grow from a year ago. This raised the employment rates for residents aged 25 to 64 and 65 & over in June 2019 compared to the year before. However, the unemployment situation is uneven, affecting non-PMETs more than PMETs. The increase in the number of employees on fixed-term contracts also suggests cautious hiring.

9 MOM and Workforce Singapore (WSG) are closely monitoring the labour market, and stand ready to step up employment support for Singaporeans through the Adapt and Grow (A&G) initiative. We encourage employers to work with tripartite partners to train workers with skills gaps. We also encourage jobseekers to be open to opportunities in other sectors and occupations beyond what they are familiar with. Employers and job seekers can tap on A&G programmes for employment support. For example, those who wish to reskill for new job opportunities can tap on Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs), which come with training and salary support. They can also tap on the Career Trial programme, where job seekers and employers can try each other out and assess job fit. Job seekers who require further career guidance can visit WSG’s Careers Connect and NTUC-Employment and Employability Institute’s (NTUC-e2i’s) career centres. MOM and WSG also offer support to employers to transform jobs and improve job quality through the Lean Enterprise Development Scheme and Capability Transfer Programme.

For More Information

10 The report is available online on the Ministry of Manpower’s statistics website at http://stats.mom.gov.sg/Pages/Home.aspx. A full report of the survey findings will be published in the “Labour Force in Singapore 2019” report on 31 January 2020. 

FOOTNOTE

  1. Employment growth data reported in Labour Market Report Second Quarter 2019, Manpower Research and Statistics Department, MOM
  2. Data in the report are based on the Comprehensive Labour Force Survey conducted in mid-2019. The data pertain to the resident population, comprising Singapore citizens and permanent residents.
  3. Including employer CPF contributions.
  4. The unemployment and long-term unemployment rate for PMETs and non-PMETs are not seasonally adjusted because they pertain specifically to June periods, and comparisons over time is not affected by seasonality. Therefore, they should be compared with the non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate at the top line, rather than the seasonally adjusted rate.
  5. This includes information & communications, financial & insurance services and professional services.
  6. Preliminary as the full year Consumer Price Index (CPI) data for 2019 is not available yet.