Foreign workforce numbers, 2017

Posted by on May 22, 2018 in Articles, Facts, research, analysis

The number of Work Permit holders in the construction sector declined by nearly 10% between end-2016 and end-2017, latest figures on foreign workforce numbers show. There were 284,900 construction Work Permit holders end-2017 compared to 315,500 of them end-2016. It’s a reduction of over 30,000.

This mirrors the 8.4% contraction in construction industry GDP in the same period. At constant (2010) prices, the construction industry’s contribution to GDP was $18.242 billion in 2017 compared to $19.915 billion in 2016.

The tightening of job opportunities in this sector will be felt by job seekers in Bangladesh and other source countries. With shrinking demand, recruitment costs may be bid up.

This is the most striking statistic from the 2017 foreign workforce numbers published by the Ministry of Manpower. The second most notable change is the increase in numbers of foreign domestic workers. This is expected as Singapore’s population ages.

A larger table showing more columns (2012 to 2017) can be seen by clicking here.

In 2017, Work Permit holders made up 17.2% of Singapore’s total population of 5.61 million in 2017, and 26.4% of our total labour force of 3.66 million in the same year.

“Work Permit” is the category for low-skill foreign workers in Singapore.

In June 2017, the total population of 5.61 million comprised 3.44 million citizens (61.3%) and 0.53 million Permanent Residents (9.5%). Non-residents totalled 1.65 million (29.4%).

Some non-residents are not in the labour force. They could be family dependents of expatriates or students studying here. However, the majority of them hold one of several categories of work passes. In December 2017, working foreigners made up 1.37 million. Of these, 965,200 were in the lower-skill, lower-wage Work Permit category.

Note: the figures for total population, citizens, Permanent Residents and labour force refer to June 2017. However, the breakdown of work pass holders (in the tables) refer to December 2017. It is not clear why MOM figures are not properly aligned with the Statistics Department figures.

 

TWC2 is an organization that is dedicated to assisting low-wage migrant workers when they are in difficulty. We are motivated by a sense of fairness and humanity, though our caseload often exceeds our
means.

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