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     FrontPage Edition: Tue 25 Oct 2005

Recent trends in employment creation


Recent Trends in Employment Creation
The economic upswing over the past 18 months has benefited workers. It has resulted in job creation in the first half of 2005 being at its strongest in four and half years. This adds to the robust gains seen in 2004.
Total employment in June 2005 is thus at an all-time high. The majority of jobs created over this period has also gone to local workers.
These are the key findings from a paper on ¡°Recent Trends in Employment Creation¡± released by the Ministry of Manpower.
In the first six months of 2005, employment gains numbered 49,500, double the 24,600 over the same period in 2004. This pace of job creation is the highest recorded since the economic boom of 2000.
Together with strong employment expansion of 71,400 in 2004, a total of some 120,900 jobs have been created over the last one and half years. This far exceeds the total job loss of 35,900 from 2001 to 2003.
By June 2005, there were a record 2,256,100 persons in employment, which is an increase of 210,000 persons employed compared to the start of 1998.
These are encouraging results which point to the fact that despite the volatile economic conditions in recent years, brought about by a series of economic shocks amid structural challenges in a highly competitive global economy, our economy has still succeeded in creating jobs.
The bulk of the jobs created have gone to locals. In the last one and half years, local employment alone rose by 78,400, constituting 65% of the total employment created over this period.
Since the start of 1998 local employment has increased nearly every year, rising cumulatively by 186,400, while foreign employment has risen and fallen, increasing cumulatively by only 23,600 over the same period.
During the difficult years of 2001 to 2003, foreign employment contracted while local employment continued to grow. Overall, foreigners have therefore acted as a buffer in the labour market. While supporting economic growth during the upturn, foreigners had borne the brunt of the job losses suffered during the economic downturn.
Job growth in recent years has been driven mainly by gains at the professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) level. This reflects the restructuring in the economy towards higher value-added and knowledge-intensive activities as low-end ones shift out of Singapore to capitalize on cheaper costs in the emerging economies.
In contrast, job losses were observed for plant & machine operators and production craftsmen as manufacturers continue to shift their operations overseas to take advantage of the cheaper labour and business costs.
As a result of the shift towards higher quality jobs, the share of PMETs among the locals employed has risen steadily over the years from 41% in 1998 to 48% in 2004. In contrast, the share of production craftsmen and plant & machine operators declined from 22% to 17% of total local employment. Employment shares of clerical workers, sales & service workers and cleaners & labourers were relatively stable over the period studied.
Encouraged by increased job opportunities brought about by the economic upturn, more people have entered the labour force to seek work. Consequently, while employment creation has been very strong, this has not led to a significant fall in unemployment.
In June 2005, the overall seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.4%, which is only slightly lower than 3.6% of a year ago. This partly reflects the skills mismatch between lower educated job seekers and the new jobs created.
Over time, as job seekers pick up new skills in demand and jobs are redesigned to attract lower skilled Singaporeans, more can look forward to securing employment so long as the economy continues to grow and create jobs.
For More Information
The ¡°Recent Trends in Employment Creation¡± is an occasional paper by the Ministry of Manpower¡¯s Research and Statistics Department.
The report analyzes the trends in employment and quality of the jobs created in recent years. It also examines how the labour supply has evolved amid the improving economic conditions. The report is available online on the MOM website at

Source: Press Release 20 Oct 2005

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