New data released by the Ministry of Manpower (source) show increases across all categories of foreign work passes during the first six months of 2014. The data period has also changed; where MOM used to report workforce numbers as at December each year, this time MOM reported for the mid-year point. This is consistent with the population statistics put out by the Statistics Department.


Graphing the above numbers:


The government does not publish any data relating to gender or nationalities of foreign workers. Nor is there any data about the numbers of Special Pass holders at any one time.

The very specific figure provided for Work Permit holders in the construction industry allows us to compare the growth in numbers with the share of GDP contributed by this sector. Using GDP figures from the Department of Statistics, we can calculate the GDP output per Work Permit holder over several years.


In constant 2010 dollar terms, the data reveal a slightly declining output per worker from 2010 to 2013 with a slight uptick in the first half of 2014.  This, albeit very rough, measure does not suggest any improvement in productivity in the construction sector.


Foreign workforce as percent of total population and total workforce

In mid-2014, foreign work pass holders made up 24.4 percent of our total population.  Work Permit holders themselves made up 17.9 percent.foreign_workforce_numbers_june2014_4

(The above table does not have subdivided non-resident data for 2013 because MOM did not release comparable data for June 2013.)

In 2013, MOM reported that the total labour force numbered 3,443.7 thousands, of which 2,138.8 thousands (62.1%) were residents, i.e. citizens and Permanent residents (source). This indicates that foreigners from all classes of work passes, made up 37.9% of Singapore’s labour force. Work Permit holders made up 28.3 percent of the total labour force (using the number of Work Permit holders from the topmost table)

Equivalent figures for 2014 are not available as the ministry has not yet released data for this year.