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Singapore – Inflow of foreign workers slowed in 2013

14 March 2014

Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower’s (MoM) stricter recruitment policies have slowed down the inflow of foreign workers, and as a result the number of Singaporeans recruited during the year increased, reports business.asiaone.com.

In a statement, MoM advised: “Unemployment remained low amid the tight labour market, while employment creation remained high, mainly driven by locals. The annual average citizen unemployment rate in 2013 was 2.9%. Local employment rose more quickly than in 2012, while foreign employment gains continued to moderate amid the foreign manpower tightening measures.”

Growth in foreign employment, excluding foreign domestic workers (FDWs), slowed for the second consecutive year to 4.6% (48,400 workers) in 2013, down from 6.8% (67,100 workers) in 2012, as previously announced foreign manpower tightening measures started to take effect. These included the reduction in Dependency Ratio for the Services sector and increased levy rates across all sectors. The bulk of foreign manpower growth came from the Construction sector (31,600), due to infrastructure projects. Excluding Construction and FDWs, foreign employment grew by +2.3% (16,800 workers) in 2013, down from 4.6% (32,200 workers) in 2012.

By work pass-type, the number of Employment Pass holders (for professionals) grew by 1,300 in 2013 after contracting by 1,600 in 2012. S-pass (for skilled workers) holder growth moderated to 18,500 in 2013, from 28,500 in 2012. Work Permit holder (excluding FDWs) growth slowed to 28,600 in 2013, from 40,300 in 2012.

In 2013, foreign workers comprised 36.9% of total employment growth (excluding FDWs), down from 53.3% in 2012. Overall, the foreign share of total employment (excluding FDWs) reached 33.8% in end 2013.

With a view to future labour developments MoM’s statement concluded: “The Singapore labour market is expected to tighten further this year, as [the] foreign workforce policy measures come into effect. This will place upward pressure on wages. Unemployment is likely to remain low, while local employment should continue to register gains in 2014.”


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