Amid restructuring and a slower economy, local employment in Singapore grew modestly in 2016, while foreign employment contracted. Unemployment increased for residents and citizens, while redundancies were also higher, per the Ministry of Manpower’s Labour Market Advance Release.
For 2016, total employment is estimated to have increased by 16,400 or 0.4%, lower than the 32,300 or 0.9% in 2015. This was the lowest growth since 2003 (-12,900 or -0.6%).
This moderation in total employment in 2016 took place amid slower growth in the Singapore economy, slowdown in local labour force growth and continued tightening of the supply of foreign workforce.
Analysing this , local employment has a greater share to contribute last year, as it increased by an estimated 10,700 (or 0.5%) in 2016. Growth occurred in many services sectors, such as community, social and personal services, professional services and transportation and storage.
On the other hand, foreign employment (excludes foreign domestic workers) contracted in 2016 (-2,500 or -0.2%), the first time since 2009, led by declines mainly in construction and marine.
In December 2016, locals made up 66.4% of persons employed in Singapore (excluding foreign domestic workers), with foreigners forming 33.6%.
For the whole of 2016, redundancies rose to 19,000, going up steadily since 2010, but remaining lower than the recessionary high in 2009. Layoffs generally increased across all three broad sectors.
Year-on-year, the nominal median income (including employer CPF contributions) of full-time employed Singaporeans rose by 0.7% to S$3,823 in 2016, or 1.3% in real terms (after adjusting for negative inflation).
This moderated from the increase of 6.5% (nominal) and 7.0% (real) in 2015. From 2011 to 2016, there was sustained real income growth of 3.1% p.a. at the median and 3.2% p.a. at the 20th percentile.
Statistics for Q4, fourth quarter 2016
The Ministry’s preliminary estimates showed that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose for overall (from 2.1% in September 2016 to 2.2% in December 2016), residents (2.9% to 3.2%) and citizens (3.0% to 3.5%). This occurred even as employment grew as more people entered the labour force to look for work.
Reflecting seasonal hiring for year-end festivities, total employment grew in the fourth quarter of 2016 (1,900), compared to the contraction in the third quarter (-2,700), but growth was lower than a year ago (16,100).
Some 5,300 workers were laid off in the fourth quarter of 2016, higher than the third quarter (4,220), but similar to a year ago (5,370).