SINGAPORE'S total employment grew by 31,800, or 0.9 per cent, in 2015 compared with a year ago, making it the lowest annual growth since 2003, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Thursday.
In the fourth quarter of 2015, total employment growth stood at 15,500, compared with 12,600 in the previous quarter and 40,700 a year ago.
The moderation in total employment growth took place amid sluggish global economic conditions, slower growth of the Singapore economy, and tightened supply of foreign manpower, the ministry said.
Local employment moderated after exceptionally high growth in 2014. It increased marginally by an estimated 100 in 2015, after growing strongly by 96,000 in 2014.
"The flat employment growth largely reflected the exit of casual workers in retail trade and the slowdown in sectors such as manufacturing (including marine) and real estate services,'' the ministry said.
This was partially offset by local job growth in sectors such as administrative and support services, community, social and personal services (CSP), professional services, as well as financial and insurance services.
Foreign employment, excluding foreign domestic workers, continued to grow at a moderate pace of an estimated 22,600, or 2 per cent, in 2015, slightly lower than 2014, but significantly below the levels in 2011 to 2013.
The growth in foreign employment was driven by the services sector, at both the Work Permit Holders (WPH) and Employment Pass (EP) levels.
The information and communications sector accounted for the bulk of EP holder growth, while the construction, transport and storage, food and beverage services as well as administrative and support services sectors contributed to the bulk of the growth in WPH.
Median income grew strongly for citizens in 2015. The nominal median monthly income from work of full-time employed citizens (including employer CPF contributions) rose by 6.5 per cent over the year to S$3,798 in June 2015, or 7 per cent in real terms.
The ministry noted there has been a sustained rise in income at the median and 20th percentile over the last five years.
In Q4 2015, 4,200 workers were laid off, compared with 3,460 in the preceding quarter and 3,910 a year ago. For the whole of 2015, redundancies rose to 14,400, going up steadily since 2010.
The increase in layoffs stemmed from manufacturing and services, the manpower ministry said.