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Labour Force in Singapore Advance Release 2023



1 Singapore’s labour market remained resilient despite the weak economic environment in 2023. Although the overall employment rate dipped, Singapore’s employment rate remained the fourth highest compared to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries1. With the labour market remaining tight2, unemployment and long-term unemployment rates fell for workers across occupational groups3 and indicators of labour under-utilisation improved.


2 Nominal incomes rose in 2023. However, real incomes fell for the 20th percentile (P20) and median (P50) workers due to high inflation. Government transfers, such as the Workfare Income Supplement and the Assurance Package, will help individuals and households cope with higher costs due to inflation. Over the decade, real income growth remained positive and wage dispersion between the P20 and P50 worker has narrowed as the incomes of lower-wage workers rose faster than that of the median worker.

3 These are the key findings from the “Labour Force in Singapore Advance Release 2023”, an annual release by the Manpower Research and Statistics Department of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). The report provides early findings from the mid-year Comprehensive Labour Force Survey.

Main Findings

Singapore continued to have one of the highest employment rates compared to the OECD countries

4 The employment rate for residents aged 15 and over declined to 66.2% in 2023 from 2022’s historical high of 67.5% amidst an exceptionally tight labour market. Nevertheless, when ranked against OECD countries, Singapore’s employment rate ranked high in fourth place, ahead of countries like Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Due to the efforts of tripartite partners to raise the employability of older workers and to promote the return of women to the workforce,4 Singapore has consistently maintained its high ranking in employment rate over the decade.

Unemployment rate and long-term unemployment rate improved for workers across occupational groups

5 In 2023, the unemployment rates and long-term unemployment rates for both PMETs (Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians) and non-PMETs improved. Non-PMETs saw a larger decline in unemployment rate (from 4.4% in 2022 to 3.6% in 2023) compared to that for PMETs (from 2.6% in 2022 to 2.4% in 2023).5 Similarly, for long-term unemployment rate6, it fell more for non-PMETs (from 0.7% to 0.5%) compared to PMETs (from 0.5% to 0.4%).

Indicators of labour under-utilisation improved

6 The incidence of discouraged workers7 remained stable and low at 0.4% in 2023.

7 The time-related under-employment rate8 declined from 3.0% in 2022 to 2.3% in 2023, reaching the lowest in over a decade. This indicates that more part-time workers in 2023 compared to 2022 were able to have the work hours they want.

8 The proportion of employees in permanent jobs rose to a high of 90.5%, comparable to a percentage last seen in 2016 (90.6%).

Real incomes fell in 2023 amidst high inflation, but remained positive over the decade

9 Nominal income level in 2023 (P20: $2,826; P50: $5,197) was higher than in 2022 (P20: $2,779; P50: $5,070). After taking into account inflation, real income in 2023 for the P20 worker fell (-3.0%) on a year-on-year (y-o-y) basis. After accounting for Workfare Income Supplement and related payments, this decline was smaller (decreasing to -2.1%).9 Similarly, the median worker also saw a decrease in real income y-o-y (-2.3%). While real income growth for the remainder of 2023 is likely to remain negative, we expect an improvement in real income growth in 2024 with inflation easing.

10 Over a longer time horizon from 2013 to 2023, real income growth remained positive (P20: 2.6% p.a.; median: 2.0% p.a.) and wage dispersion narrowed between the P20 worker and the median worker.


11 Economic headwinds will continue to weigh on the labour market going forward. The Government encourages employers and workers to make full use of available programmes to remain competitive and resilient amidst economic uncertainty. We encourage employers to press on with business transformation and equip their workers for expanded or redesigned job roles. We encourage workers to continue to upskill, and be open to new opportunities.

a. Employers can refer to the Jobs Transformation Maps (JTMs) to understand how their businesses and job demands may change in response to sectoral trends. A total of 16 JTMs are available on Workforce Singapore's (WSG’s) website, and three more will be progressively completed. The JTMs identify the key technologies that are driving change, and their impact on individual job roles. With this information, employers and workers can pre-emptively redesign jobs and acquire the necessary skills for jobs of the future. Employers can also tap on the Support for Job Redesign under Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG-JR), to make their jobs more productive and attractive to jobseekers.

b. WSG has several initiatives which can help local jobseekers reskill for new job roles, such as the Career Conversion Programmes, which allow jobseekers to undergo industry-recognised training with up to 90% salary and course fee support. In addition, the Mid-Career Pathways Programme provides attachment opportunities to mature workers, allowing them to gain industry-relevant experience while receiving a training allowance of up to $3,800 per month.

c. Local jobseekers who require additional assistance can tap on career matching services offered by WSG as well as NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute.

For More Information

12 The full report is available online on the Ministry of Manpower’s Research and Statistics Department website at


  1. OECD countries are mostly high-income countries similar to Singapore. The OECD provides a comprehensive statistical database that facilitates harmonised comparisons across a broad spectrum of indicators.
  2. While the labour market remains tight, labour demand is easing as the number of job vacancies fell for five consecutive quarters and ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons also dipped significantly for the second consecutive quarter to 1.94 in June. Source: Labour Market Report 2nd Quarter 2023, Manpower Research & Statistics Department, MOM.
  3. PMETs and non-PMETs
  4. From 2013 to 2023, the female employment rate rose from 55.6% to 60.3%. Over the same period, the employment rate of those aged 65 & over rose from 22.9% to 30.6%.
  5. This refers to unemployment rates for residents who were previously employed in PMET and non-PMET occupations. The PMET and non-PMET unemployment rates are based on data as of June each year. As they are non-seasonally adjusted, they should not be compared with the seasonally adjusted unemployment rates that are published on a higher frequency.
  6. This is defined as the percentage of persons aged 15 years and over who have been unemployed for 25 weeks or more, to the labour force.
  7. This refers to persons outside the labour force who are not actively looking for a job because they believe their job search would not yield results. Reasons cited for being discouraged include beliefs that there is no suitable work available, employers’ discrimination and lack of necessary qualifications, training, skills or experience.
  8. This is defined as the percentage of persons aged 15 years and over who normally work less than 35 hours a week (i.e. part-timers) but are willing and available to engage in additional work, to employed persons.
  9. Includes Workfare Income Supplement (WIS), Workfare Special Payment (WSP), Workfare Bicentennial Bonus, Workfare Bonus and Workfare Special Bonus, which started in 2006.