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     FrontPage Edition: Fri 17 Mar 2006

Singapore Labour Market 2005


The strong economy in 2005 created record high employment for locals.
Total employment grew by 113,300 in 2005, exceeding the previous year¡¯s gains of 71,400. This is higher than the preliminary estimates of 110,800. In absolute terms, this is the highest annual employment created since the gains of 120,300 in 1997.
The strong employment creation last year brought the total number employed to a new record high of 2,319,900 persons as at December 2005.
Local employment grew by 63,500 in 2005, up from gains of 49,900 in 20041. This is the highest annual employment creation on record for locals, even exceeding pre-Asian crisis levels2.
Foreign employment grew by 49,800, higher than the increase of 21,500 in 2004. Last year¡¯s foreign employment gains came close to the 50,100 increase in the boom of 2000 but were still lower than pre-Asian crisis when foreign job gains averaged 70,400 per year from 1995 to 1997. As at December 2005, there were 671,200 foreigners working in Singapore, constituting 28.9% of total employment.
With the robust job creation, unemployment has fallen to its lowest level in slightly over four years. The seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rate dropped significantly to 2.5% in December 2005 from 3.3% in September 2005 and 3.0% in December 2004.
Among the resident1 labour force, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate at 3.3% is also significantly lower than 4.4% in September 2005 and 4.0% in December 2004.
Unemployment for most age and education groups improved relative to a year ago. Specifically, mature residents aged 40 and above across all education groups, experienced lower unemployment in December 2005 with the tertiary educated experiencing the largest improvement among the mature residents.
The strong job creation in 2005 has lifted prospects even for the long-term unemployed. Some 13,200 or 21% of the unemployed residents have been looking for work for at least 25 weeks in December 2005. This is down from 21,300 or 28% a year ago but is still higher than 10,500 or 20% experienced in December 2000.
On average, the nominal monthly earnings based on CPF records grew by 3.5%, comparable to the 3.6% recorded a year ago. Real earnings rose by 3.0% in 2005, higher than the 1.8% in 2004.
Growth in labour productivity moderated from 6.9% in 2004 to 1.9% in 2005 as employment gains accelerated while output growth eased over the period. Consequently, the growth in real earnings outpaced productivity growth in 2005 in a reversal from three preceding years of lag.
For More Information
The report is available online on the Ministry of Manpower¡¯s website at

More..... (Charts)

1 Locals also known as residents refer to Singapore citizens and permanent residents.

2 The data series started in 1982.

Source: Press Release 16 Mar 2006

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