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Labour Force in Singapore Advance Release 2021


1. The Manpower Research and Statistics Department of the Ministry of Manpower issued the Advance Release of its annual Labour Force in Singapore 2021 (LFAR) today.1 The report draws on field work from the mid-year Comprehensive Labour Force Survey (CLFS) 2021. This report analyses a wider range of labour market indicators such as employment rate and income growth, which are not covered in the quarterly labour market reports.

2. The resident employment rate rose above pre-COVID levels, bolstered by tripartite efforts under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package. While demand for temporary manpower arising from COVID-related activities contributed to higher employment, the number of residents in permanent jobs also grew. Unemployment and time-related under-employment rates improved but remained above pre-COVID rates.

3. Nominal and real incomes for residents rose. Although real income growth was moderated by higher inflation, it exceeded the slight decline in 2020. As a result, median income surpassed the pre-COVID level. Income at the 20th percentile rose faster than median income, and to a level on par with pre-COVID. Workfare Income Supplement (WIS)-related payouts provided further boost to incomes of lower-wage workers.

Main Findings

Employment rate rose across various groups, reflecting economic recovery and measures to support employment

4. Employment rate for residents aged 15 & over rebounded from 64.5% in June 2020 to 67.2% in June 2021, after declining from 65.2% in June 2019. This reflected
economic recovery and the impact of measures such as the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package, Jobs Support Scheme and Jobs Growth Incentive on the labour market.

5. The improvement in employment rate was broad-based across demographic profiles:
a. The employment rate of youths (aged 15 to 24) rose from 30.9% in June 2020 to 37.2% in June 20212. This was mainly due to more students taking on part- time or temporary work on the sides.
b. Among residents aged 25 to 64, the employment rate rose from 80.3% in June 2020 to 81.8% in June 2021. The improvement was across gender - from 87.9% to 88.9% for men, and from 73.2% to 75.1% for women.
c. Supported by sustained efforts to raise the employability of seniors, such as the Senior Worker Early Adopter Grant, the employment rate of seniors aged 65 & over rose to 28.5% in June last year despite the recession, and continued to increase at a faster pace to 31.7% as at June 2021.

6. The vast majority of resident employees were permanent employees (88%). An increase in demand for temporary manpower for COVID-related activities and economic uncertainty led to a new high in the share of those on fixed-term contracts at 8.4%. This was an increase from 7.3% in June 2020, and driven by increases among residents on contracts of less than one year. However, the number of residents on permanent employment also grew by 50,900.

Resident unemployment rates improved over the year, but remain elevated

7. The unemployment rate (non-seasonally adjusted)3 for resident non-PMETs4 improved from 6.4% in June 2020 to 5.1% in June 2021. The unemployment rate for resident PMETs also edged down from 3.5% to 3.4%. Nevertheless, these rates have yet to return to pre-COVID rates. The resident long-term unemployment rates held steady at 0.8% for PMETs and 0.9% for non-PMETs after increasing last year. The elevated long-term unemployment rate compared to pre-COVID suggests that some workers who were displaced earlier faced challenges in their job search.

Time-related under-employment rate eased, though still above pre-COVID rate

8. The resident time-related under-employment rate eased from 4.1% in June 2020 to 3.5% in June 2021, though it remains above pre-COVID rates. Most groups experienced improvements, including lower-educated and older workers who were more affected last year. Affected by the suspension of dine-in services and in-person tuition/enrichment classes during the Heightened Alert period, time-related under-employment rates were highest in Food & Beverage Services and Education in June 2021, and their rates were also higher than pre-COVID levels.

Incomes rose above pre-COVID levels, although moderated by higher inflation

9. Nominal median income of full-time employed residents5 grew in June 2021 (3.2%) after decreasing in June 2020 (-0.6%). After accounting for inflation, real median income growth was smaller but remained positive at 1.1%P, more than offsetting the decline of 0.4% in 2020.

Income at the 20th percentile rebounded, and surpassed pre-COVID levels after including government transfers

10. Real income of full-timers at the 20th percentile rose by 4.6%P in June 2021, and recovered to around the pre-COVID level. After including WIS-related payouts from the government, the 20th percentile income surpassed its pre-COVID level by 0.6% p.a.P.6

11 Over a five-year period (2016 to 2021), the real income growth of lower-wage workers remained strong, enabling them to continue to gain ground on median incomes. Supported by efforts such as the Progressive Wage Model to uplift lower-wage workers, real income growth at the 20th percentile (2.8% p.a.P) of full-time employed residents was higher than the median income growth (2.2% p.a.P).


12. The labour market gradually recovered in 2021, although it has not fully returned to pre-COVID conditions. We expect the labour market recovery to continue in the second half of the year and into 2022, but in an uneven manner across sectors.

13. The Government and tripartite partners will continue to support employers and workers to emerge stronger from COVID-19 through the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package. With the pace of transformation accelerated by COVID-19, our focus is on preserving human capital and developing local workers through skills upgrading to prepare for jobs of the future. At the same time, we will continue to work with employers to improve job quality through job redesign.

14. As of end-September 2021, more than 146,000 jobseekers have been placed into jobs, attachment and training opportunities under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package. This reflects strong tripartite relationship and collaboration. These include the Career Conversion Programmes (CCPs) that provide substantial training and salary support to employers that hire and reskill mid-career jobseekers for new jobs or reskill existing workers at risk of redundancy for new roles in the company. Workforce Singapore offers close to 100 CCPs across about 30 sectors.

15. In addition, the Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) supports employers to expand local hiring. In the first nine months of implementation between September 2020 and May 2021, it supported 58,000 businesses to hire more than 400,000 locals. MOM has extended the Jobs Growth Incentive to March 2022. Mature workers, persons with disabilities and ex-offenders will get more support than non-mature new hires, at up to $36,000 per hire.

For More Information
16. The report is available online on the Ministry of Manpower’s Research and Statistics Department website at


  1. The data pertain to the resident population, comprising Singapore citizens and permanent residents.
  2. The employment rate of youths is relatively lower than residents aged 25 to 64, as the majority of youths in Singapore are in education or training.
  3. The PMET and non-PMET unemployment rates are non-seasonally adjusted figures and refer to June periods. They should not be analyzed alongside quarterly unemployment rates, which are adjusted for seasonality to facilitate quarter on quarter analysis.
  4. PMETs refer to professionals, managers, executives & technicians.
  5. Including employer CPF contributions.
  6. Data on Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) and related payouts (such as the Workfare Special Payment) are preliminary, based on latest available data.