Press release -

Singaporeans in the Workforce

Singaporeans have one of the highest employment rates internationally. The unemployment rate amongst citizens declined to 3.1% in June 2011, down from a high of 4.5% in 2009 during the recession.

The unemployment rate was lower among better educated citizens, as well as older citizens. However, once out of work, older Singaporeans were more likely to stay unemployed longer.

With continued emphasis and investment in education and training, more of our citizens are holding higher skilled jobs today. The median income of Singaporeans has also increased in real terms over the decade. Households at the bottom 20th percentile had more limited real income growth, although still positive. Government transfers, however, had a redistributive effect on household incomes. These are amongst the key findings of an occasional paper by the Manpower Research and Statistics Department and the Singapore Department of Statistics. 

Main Findings

The number of Singaporeans in the labour force grew by 1.8% per annum from 2001 to 2010, faster than the growth in citizen population aged 15 & over of 1.6% per annum over the same period. This reflected the rise in citizen labour force participation rate from 63.7% in 2001 to 64.7% in 2010.

Singaporeans have one of the highest employment rates internationally. With nearly eight in ten (77%) Singaporeans aged 25 to 64 employed in 2010, our employment rate surpassed that in the other Asian NIEs and many advanced economies. This has occurred because, although our citizen labour force participation rate is not higher than in many advanced economies, the unemployment rate amongst those in the labour force is low.

The exception was observed only among the older population aged 55 to 64, where the employment rate of Singaporeans fell behind Japan, South Korea and the United States, though it remained higher than in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The proportion of employed older women remained lower than in many economies, despite gains made over the last decade.

With continued emphasis and investment in education, more of our citizens are better qualified and holding higher skilled jobs today. Nearly one in four (23%) citizens employed in 2010 were degree holders, up from 14% in 2001. Including those with diploma & professional qualifications, the share was 41% compared with 28% in 2001. Close to one in two (49%) citizens employed in 2010 were in professionals, managerial, executive & technical (PMET) jobs, up from 42% in 2001.

The median monthly income from work of Singapore citizens in full-time employment grew by 29% or 2.9% p.a. in nominal terms from 2001 to 2010, and by 11% or 1.2% p.a. in real terms. Virtually all of the income growth occurred in the later half of the decade.

The growth in individual income, coupled with an improving employment rate, also boosted incomes of citizen-headed employed households. The median monthly household income from work per household member grew by 40% or 3.4% p.a. in nominal terms and 20% or 1.8% p.a. in real terms from 2000 to 2010. Households at the bottom 20th percentile had flatter but still positive growth of 34% or 3.0 % p.a. in nominal terms and 8.1% or 0.8% p.a. in real terms.

Government transfers had a redistributive effect on household income. In 2010, the citizen-headed household income from work per household member at the 90th percentile was slightly over 9 times that of the 10th percentile. After taking into account government transfers and taxes, the ratio was lower at 8 times.

With the strong economic recovery, the unemployment rate amongst citizens declined to 3.1% in June 2011 on a seasonally-adjusted basis, down from a high of 4.5% in 2009 during the recession. The citizen unemployment rate of 3.1% was slightly higher than 3.0% for all residents. The latter reflected the lower unemployment rate among permanent residents who have typically had to display a high degree of employability before being granted permanent residency.

The unemployment rate was lower among better educated citizens, as well as older citizens. However, once out of work, older Singaporeans were more likely to stay unemployed longer. 

For More Information

The occasional paper is available online on MOM's Statistics and Publications webpage.

Subjects

  • Employment issues

Tags

  • household income
  • ministry of manpower.
  • singaporeans in the workforce
  • employment rate
  • unemployment rate
  • singapore department of statistics
  • real income growth
  • 2009 recession
  • singapore