Singapore’s labour market improves, but structural challenges remain

Singapore’s labour market improved on the back of stronger economic activity, the Ministry of Manpower said.

Central Business District area of Singapore

A pickup in economic activity helped Singapore’s labour market firm up this year, but structural challenges such as an ageing population and a slower population growth will continue to put downward pressures on the developed nation.

On a year-on-year basis, Singapore’s labour market improved on the back of stronger economic activity, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Thursday in a report based on the ministry’s Labour Force in Singapore Advance Release 2018. A greater pool of younger and older workers were employed for this year, it said.

Unemployment rates for resident workers for both professionals, managers, executives, and technicians (PMETs), and non-PMETs eased to 2.9% and 4.0% respectively, lower than 3.0% and 4.5% a year ago.

The employment rate for older residents aged 65 and above rose from 25.8% in June last year to 26.8% as of June this year. Meanwhile, more younger workers took on paid internships or vacation jobs, driving the employment rate for residents aged 15 to 24 years old 0.4% higher than a year ago.

More women in their 30s are leaving the workforce to care for their families, and that brought the unemployment rate for workforce Singapore’s core workforce aged 25 to 64 years old lower from 80.7% to 80.3% this year.

MOM said Singapore’s labour force continued to earn higher incomes from 2013 to 2018. Real median income growth of full-time employed residents grew by 3.5% per annum in the recent 5 years, compared to 1.9% per annum in the previous 5 years.

Shrinking workforce in Singapore, businesses urged to innovate

The working population for Singapore or labour resident supply is expected to moderate going forward due to a shrinking workforce plagued with an ageing population and slower population growth, said MOM. The agency urged businesses to invest in their workers and improve the quality of jobs while attempting to transform and grow their business with productivity in mind.

Singapore’s economy is expected to grow by 3.0% to 3.5% for this year, at the upper end of its earlier forecast range of 2.5% to 3.5%.

In the final economic print for Singapore’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) performance for the third quarter released last week, Singapore's economic growth is expected to ease for the second half of this year compared to the first half of the year. GDP for next year is predicted to come in around 1.5% to 3.5%, due to a challenging external environment mired by trade wars.

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