SINGAPORE: The growth of the foreign workforce in Singapore slowed down significantly in 2012, while local employment growth rose sharply, amid tighter controls to check the inflow of foreign workers, according to the key preliminary findings of the Employment Situation 2012 report released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Thursday.
Local employment growth rose by 59,200, substantially higher than the gains of 37,900 in 2011.
The growth in foreign employment eased to 70,400 in 2012, compared with 84,800 in 2011.
Excluding foreign domestic workers and construction, the growth in foreign employment was even lower at 32,200 in 2012, which was around half of the 60,200 in 2011.
In December 2012, locals accounted for 66.4 per cent of those employed in Singapore excluding foreign domestic workers. Foreigners formed the remaining 33.6 per cent, compared with 32.8 per cent in December 2011.
MOM said with the high employment creation, unemployment remained low, despite a rise in layoffs.
In the fourth quarter of 2012, there was higher employment growth of 44,500, supported by hiring for the festive season.
The growth was higher than the gains of 26,200 in the preceding quarter and 37,600 in the same quarter of 2011.
For the whole of 2012, total employment increased by 129,600, slightly above the 122,600 in 2011.
MOM said this mainly reflected the higher employment growth in construction of 39,100 in 2012, compared with 22,000 in 2011, boosted by public building projects.
Excluding construction and foreign domestic workers, the increase in total employment at 87,200 in 2012 was lower than the 95,600 in 2011.
Services continued to generate the bulk of total employment gains in 2012 at 77,900 and this slowed from 96,100 in 2011.
Manufacturing added 11,100 workers in 2012, as gains mainly in chemical products outnumbered losses in electronics manufacturing.
Layoffs rose for the second consecutive quarter, reflecting the impact of economic slowdown and restructuring.
Some 3,400 workers were laid off in the fourth quarter, up from 2,850 in the preceding quarter.
For the the full year of 2012, 11,000 workers were made redundant, higher than the 9,990 in 2011. This was still less than the highs of 23,430 experienced during the last recession in 2009 and 16,880 in 2008.
SIM University business school’s associate professor Randolph Tan said: "Singapore is not the only one competing for foreign manpower.
"Singapore will be one of many countries whose economies will be powered by talent beyond its borders. And as we compete for foreign manpower with other countries, we’ll have to pay more if we want to attract the better ones."
The Consumer Price Index for all items rose over the year by 4.6 per cent in 2012, down from the increase of 5.2 per cent in 2011.
With high employment creation, the seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rate dipped to 1.8 per cent in December from 1.9 per cent in September 2012.
The decline in unemployment was also seen among residents, from 2.8 per cent to 2.6 per cent, and among citizens, from 3 per cent to 2.9 per cent.
For the whole of 2012, the annual average unemployment rate remained at a low of 2 per cent overall.
The rate was 3 per cent for citizens, unchanged from 2011, while the resident unemployment rate dipped to 2.8 per cent from 2.9 per cent.
Amid the tight labour market, the nominal income from work of Singaporeans continued to rise, though at a slower pace in 2012, reflecting the weaker economic conditions.
The median monthly income from work, including employer CPF contributions, of full—time employed citizens rose over the year by 5.8 per cent to S$3,248 in 2012, down from the growth of 6.3 per cent in 2011.
Balanced by lower inflation, the real median income growth was 1.2 per cent in 2012, compared with 1 per cent in 2011.
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