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Residents' employment rate hits record 79% in 2013

MOM report also shows stronger real income growth in 2013

Singapore

ALMOST four in five Singaporeans and permanent residents are working this year, a new high, according to a report by the Ministry of Manpower.

At the same time, there is stronger real income growth, said the Singapore Workforce 2013 report released yesterday.

The employment rate of residents aged 25-64 jumped from 71.8 per cent a decade ago to 78.8 per cent in 2012, before inching up to 79 per cent this year, as more women and older residents joined the workforce in a tight labour market.

"These positive outcomes did not happen by chance," National Trades Union Congress deputy secretary-general Heng Chee How said in a posting on Facebook. "It is the result of tight labour market and the painstaking tripartite efforts to reduce the barriers of employment, so that more Singaporeans can stay in work and re-enter the workforce." He pledged to continue to push for the legally mandated re-employment age band to go beyond the current 62-65 years to 62-67 years.

Said Femke Hellemons, country manager of employment firm Adecco Singapore: "Clearly, the various initiatives which support work-life integration are seeing some success with the increased number of women re-entering the workforce."

Although still far below the 75.8 per cent force abour participation rate for men, the rate for women climbed from 50.9 per cent in 2003 to 58.1 per cent in 2013, said the report.

For older residents aged 55 to 64, the employment rate surpassed the previous high of 64 per cent in 2012 to reach 65 per cent, hitting the government's target two years ahead of time. The report said this reflected the better-educated profile of recent cohorts of older residents and tripartite efforts to better equip them to continue working.

Professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) also account for a bigger share of the resident workforce as the education and skills profile of the workforce improves. PMEs make up 31.1 per cent of the resident workforce this year, up from 27.4 per cent a decade ago.

The report said full-time working residents' nominal median monthly income jumped 6.5 per cent over the year to $3,705 in June. Real median income growth picked up from 2.5 per cent in 2012 to a preliminary 3.9 per cent this year, as inflation eased. "Cumulatively, the median income (including employer CPF contributions) of full-time employed residents rose by 27.9 per cent or 5 per cent per annum from 2008 to 2013," the report said.

In real terms, median income grew by an estimated 9.7 per cent or 1.9 per cent yearly in this period, faster than the 7 per cent or 1.4 per cent annually in 2003-2008.

The increase over the decade was a preliminary 17.4 per cent, or 1.6 per cent yearly.

The report said income growth at the 20th percentile broadly kept pace with that of the median in the recent five years, with the former's monthly income jumping 26.6 per cent from $1,489 in 2008 to $1,885 in 2013, or 4.8 per cent yearly.

The real increase is an estimated 8.6 per cent, or 1.7 per cent yearly.

"This outweighed the real income losses of 0.6 per cent or 0.1 per cent per annum from 2003 to 2008, resulting in growth of 7.9 per cent or 0.8 per cent per annum over the decade," the report said.

Noting that the median real wage growth was 1.9 per cent a year in 2008-2013, against 1.7 per cent for lower-income workers, Mr Heng said: "We must push harder to improve their (lower-income workers') wages faster and sustainably."