5.54m living here but less coming to work

Singapore's population stood at 5.54 million as of June, a 1.2 per cent growth from June last year, latest figures show.

But the pace of growth was the slowest in more than a decade, mainly due to the continued slowdown in the growth of the foreign workforce, according to a report released by the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) yesterday.

In the previous year, the population rise was 1.3 per cent.

The 5.54 million population figure comprises 3.38 million citizens, 530,000 permanent residents (PRs) and 1.63 million non-residents.

The growth in non-resident population slowed to 2.1 per cent this year, down from 2.9 per cent last year. This continues a downward trend seen in the last few years. The number of non-residents was 1.6 million last year.

Close to half of the non-residents here (45 per cent) were work permit holders mostly in occupations in which it was difficult to hire locals, such as construction, said the NPTD report.

The rest were dependants of citizens, PRs or work pass holders (16 per cent); maids (13 per cent); employment pass holders in managerial and executive positions (11 per cent); S Pass holders in sectors like retail, manufacturing and healthcare (11 per cent); and foreign students (4 per cent).

"Businesses will continue to face a tight labour market. The Government will support businesses to shift towards skills- and capital-intensive ways to grow, so that businesses can continue to grow and succeed here, to create quality jobs for Singaporeans," said the report.

The citizen population, however, crept up by 1 per cent, thanks to a rise in citizen births which, along with births in 2012 (a Dragon year), were the highest in the last decade.

There were 33,193 Singaporean babies born last year, although the year was not a particularly auspicious one to many Singaporeans for having children. That matched the record in the popular Dragon Year in 2012.

As a result, the total fertility rate for residents rose to 1.25 last year, from 1.19 in 2013. The increase was seen across all ethnic groups.

This, however, was still well below the replacement rate of 2.1.

But until there is a surge in birth rates, Singapore's population continues to age, with Singaporeans living longer and having fewer babies.

Those aged 65 and older formed 13.1 per cent of the citizen population as of June, up from 12.4 per cent last year.

"There are more citizens in the older age groups today as the 'post-war baby boomers' enter their silver years," said the report.

That would mean that there are currently 4.9 citizens in the working age band of 20 to 64 years for each citizen aged 65 years and above. A decade ago, the figure was 7.2.


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