Labour Force in Singapore Advance Release 2022
1. The resident labour force continued to see improvements in 2022 compared to a year ago. Unemployment rate fell for workers across occupational groups. A larger proportion of the population was engaged in work as the employment rate rose. Year-on-year real income grew notwithstanding high inflation. In particular, income growth for lower-wage workers was higher than the median, and the 20th percentile (P20) to median (P50) income ratio rose to its highest since 2004. Indicators on labour under-utilisation have also improved to their pre-COVID levels.
2. These are key findings from the Advance Release of the Labour Force In Singapore 2022, an annual release by the Manpower Research and Statistics Department of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).1 The report draws on data from the mid-year Comprehensive Labour Force Survey.
A larger proportion of the resident population was engaged in work
3. The employment rate for residents aged 15 and over rose for the second consecutive year to reach 67.5% in 2022, higher than the pre-COVID rate in 2019 by 2.3%-points. If ranked against Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries on overall employment rate, Singapore would place third.
Share of residents in PMET roles has increased
4. In terms of job profile, PMETs (Professionals, Managers, Executives, and Technicians) made up 64% of all employed residents in 2022, an increase from 62% in 2021. The higher share reflects a highly educated workforce and sustained employment growth in sectors such as Information & Communications, Financial & Insurance and Professional Services.
Unemployment rate fell for workers across occupations
5. The unemployment rate fell over the year, from 3.4% to 2.6% for PMETs and from 5.1% to 4.4% for non-PMETs.2 The long-term unemployment rate3 also decreased to around pre-COVID levels for both PMETs (0.8% to 0.5%) and non-PMETs (0.9% to 0.7%).
Other indicators on labour under-utilisation have also improved to pre-COVID levels
6. The number and incidence of discouraged workers4 continued to decrease from 11,600 or 0.5% of the resident labour force in 2021, to 8,900 or 0.4% in 2022, reflecting a strong recovery from the height of the pandemic in 2020.
7. Alongside improvements in job search outcomes, the resident time-related under-employment rate declined to pre-COVID levels, at 3.0% in 2022. Most groups experienced improvements, including those who were more affected at the height of the pandemic – workers aged 60 and over as well as those with below secondary qualifications. With the economic recovery, the scale-back in COVID-related temporary jobs, and the tight labour market, the proportion of employees in non-permanent employment also fell back to pre-COVID levels (11%).
Income growth held up well despite high inflation
8. Real median income growth improved from 0.9% in 2021 to 2.1% in 2022, as strong nominal income growth outstripped higher inflation. However, real median income growth in 2022 was still lower than that in the years preceding the pandemic (2014-2019: 3.8% p.a.), when inflation was lower.
9. Lower-wage workers saw stronger income growth than the median worker, supported by tripartite initiatives such as the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) which are aimed at uplifting lower-wage workers. Real income for the 20th percentile worker grew by 4.8% in 2022, faster than the previous year (4.4%) as well as the pre-COVID years (2014-2019: 4.4% p.a.). With this, the P20 to P50 income ratio rose from 0.53 in 2021 to 0.55 in 2022, the highest since 2004.
10. The broad-based improvement in resident labour force performance reflects the continued economic recovery and the gradual normalisation of business and social activities. Amid the evolving economic environment, we encourage employers and workers to make full use of government programmes to adapt and accelerate the pace of transformation. This will enable us to develop our workers and build a more competitive and resilient workforce, while ensuring that wage growth is sustainable and supported by productivity growth.
- Employers can tap on the Support for Job Redesign under Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG-JR), to make their jobs more productive and attractive to jobseekers. Workforce Singapore (WSG) also offers Job Redesign Reskilling Programmes to support employers in upskilling existing employees to take on enhanced job roles.
- The SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme offers attachment opportunities for mid-career jobseekers, with allowances of up to $3,800 per month. This allows employers to better assess the job-fit of mature jobseekers, while providing them an opportunity to undergo training and widen their professional networks.
- Jobseekers who require career matching services can approach WSG and NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute, including through any of the 24 SGUnited Jobs & Skills Centres across the country.
11. The Government will continue to build on tripartite efforts to uplift lower-wage workers.
- These include new Progressive Wage moves introduced since 1 September 2022, namely the new Local Qualifying Salary (LQS) requirement, and the introduction of PWM for retail workers as well as for in-house cleaners, security officers and landscape workers. More lower-wage workers will also benefit from the Food Services PWM and Occupational PWM for administrators and drivers to be implemented from March 2023.
- The Government is also co-funding the wage increases given to lower-wage workers through the Progressive Wage Credit Scheme, for five years from 2022 to 2026. Employers are urged to use this period of support from the Government to accelerate firm-level productivity improvements, so that wage increases remain sustainable in the long run.
For More Information
12. The full report is available online on the Ministry of Manpower’s Research and Statistics Department website at http://stats.mom.gov.sg/Pages/Home.aspx.