Ministry of Manpower

Singapore Workforce, 2011

Press Release   •   Nov 30, 2011 17:03 SGT

The employment rate rose to a new high in 2011, reflecting the sustained improvement among women and older residents. Amid a tighter labour market, the median income of residents in full-time employment rose faster than a year ago, even after taking inflation into account.

These are the key findings from the comprehensive Labour Force Survey conducted in the middle of 2011 by the Ministry of Manpower’s Research and Statistics Department.

Main Findings

Growth in Singapore’s resident labour force moderated in 2011, reflecting the absolute decline in number of permanent residents in the population.1 The pool of economically active residents increased over the year by 1.6% in June 2011, lower than the growth of 3.1% in 2010 and the average of 2.6% p.a. from 2001 to 2011. There were 2.08 million residents in the labour force as at June 2011.

The resident labour force participation rate stabilised in 2011, after trending upwards gradually over time. 66.1% of the resident population aged 15 & over were either working or actively seeking work in 2011, similar to the record 66.2% in 2010 and higher than 64.4% in 2001.

Reflecting both the stable high in labour force participation rate and a lower unemployment rate,2 78.0% of the resident population aged 25 to 64 were employed in 2011 – surpassing the previous high of 77.1% in 2010.

The employment rate for older residents made good progress. A record 61.2% of residents aged 55 to 64 were working in 2011, up from 59.0% a year ago. The employment rate for both males (from 75.0% to 76.4%) and females (from 43.4% to 46.3%) in this age group rose to new highs in 2011.

The employment rate for women in the prime-working ages of 25 to 54 also rose to another high, from 71.7% in 2010 to 73.0% in 2011. Prime-working age men experienced a modest increase from 92.4% to 92.6%, still lower than the pre-recession high of 93.3% in 2007 and 93.0% a decade ago. Nevertheless, Singapore’s rate remained above the levels in the other Asian Newly Industrialised Economies (NIEs) and the advanced economies.3

More residents were employed in both professional, managerial, executive & technician (PMET) and non-PMET jobs in 2011, with a faster rate of increase over the year for PMETs (2.2%) than non-PMETs (1.5%). This was the second consecutive year that residents employed in non-PMET jobs had increased, after declining from 2006 to 2009. Over the decade, PMETs (4.3% p.a.) also experienced faster employment gains than non-PMETs (1.0% p.a.), resulting in an increase in PMETs’ share of the resident workforce from 44% in 2001 to 52% in 2011.

Nominal incomes rose strongly in 2011, amid a tighter labour market. The median monthly income from work (including employer CPF contributions) of full-time employed residents rose by 8.3% over the year to $3,249 in 2011, up from the growth of 2.5% in 2010. Taking headline inflation into account, the median income rose in real terms by 3.1%P in 2011, after a slight dip of 0.3% in 2010. Excluding employer CPF contributions, growth in income also accelerated in 2011, although by a slightly lower rate at 8.0% (nominal) and 2.8%P (real). The headline inflation is based on Consumer Price Index (CPI) covering all items, including imputed rentals on owner-occupied accommodation. Excluding the latter, the real median income of full-time employed residents grew by 4.0%P (including employer CPF contributions) and 3.7%P (excluding employer CPF contributions) in 2011.

For More Information

The “Singapore Workforce, 2011” report is available online on the MOM's Statistics and Publications webpage. More comprehensive analysis and data from the mid-year Labour Force Survey will be released in the “Report on Labour Force in Singapore, 2011” on 31 January 2012.

1Amid the tightened immigration framework, the number of permanent residents in the population fell by 1.7% over the year in June 2011, after growing 1.5% in 2010 and 11.5% in 2009. Source: Singapore Department of Statistics (2011), Population Trends 2011.

2The resident unemployment rate decreased to a non-seasonally adjusted 3.9% in June 2011, from 4.1% in June 2010 and 5.9% in June 2009.

3The employment rate of men aged 25 to 54 was 85.7% in Taiwan, 86.8% in South Korea, 90.3% in Hong Kong, 81.0% in US, 85.3% in UK and 84.7% for OECD average in 2010. Source: Based on data from national statistical agencies and OECD Stat Extracts website.