SINGAPORE - Unemployment remained low in Singapore last year, but total employment here recorded its lowest growth in 12 years.
Over the whole of 2015, total employment is estimated to have increased by 31,800, or 0.9 per cent, according to the Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) Labour Market Advance Release 2015 report.
This is the lowest year-on-year growth recorded since 2003.
MOM said that employment growth moderated due to sluggish global economic conditions, slower growth of the Singapore economy and tightened supply of foreign manpower.
In total, 3,655,600 people were employed in Singapore as of Dec 2015, comprising 2,268,300 locals and 1,387,300 foreigners.
Employment growth among citizens and permanent residents was flat year-on-year, with employment of locals increasing by just 100 in 2015 compared to the growth of 96,000 in 2014.
Foreign employment growth also moderated to 31,600, or 2.3 per cent, the lowest rate in six years, according to statistics from MOM.
Meanwhile, overall unemployment in Singapore remained low in 2015 at 1.9 per cent, while unemployment of residents and citizens was 2.8 per cent and 2.9 per cent respectively. These figures are broadly unchanged since 2011, MOM said.
In the final quarter of last year, the unemployment rate dipped slightly to 1.9 per cent from 2 per cent in the previous quarter.
More workers were also retrenched in 2015, with a total of 14,400 laid off, the most since 2009.
According to MOM, the increase in layoffs stemmed from the manufacturing and services sectors, which shed 5,000 and 7,800 jobs respectively last year.
However, continued labour market tightness and manpower shortages in certain industries meant that median incomes grew strongly.
The median monthly income of full-time employed citizens, including employer Central Provident Fund contributions, was $3,798 in June 2015. This is a 7 per cent increase after adjusting for inflation.
"The moderated employment growth in 2015 reflects the weaker global economic conditions and our continued efforts to restructure towards a more productive and manpower-lean economy," MOM said.
The ministry added that it would step up efforts to strengthen the Singaporean core in the workforce and reduce over-reliance on foreign manpower.