Ms Foo Mee Har: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry what is the impact of the 11% reduction in non-resident population on Singapore’s economy and business.
Written Answer by Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong
1. As at June 2021, the non-resident population in Singapore was 1.47 million, 10.7% lower than in June 2020. This reduction was largely due to non-resident workers as a result of uncertain economic conditions and border restrictions amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of non-resident workers fell across all pass types, with work permit holders in the construction, marine shipyard and process sectors accounting for the largest drop.
2. The fall in non-resident workers, coupled with a pickup in demand for workers amidst the ongoing economic recovery, has increased the number of seasonally adjusted job vacancies in the overall economy to an all-time high of 92,100 in June 2021. The number of vacancies is especially acute in sectors which rely most on non-resident workers, such as construction and manufacturing. The seasonally adjusted job vacancy to unemployed person ratio increased to 1.63 in June 2021, exceeding 1 for the first time since March 2019.
3. The labour shortages have raised business costs, reduced profit margins, and contributed to higher consumer prices in finished products. The labour shortages have also slowed the recovery of some sectors, particularly those that are more reliant on non-resident workers, such as construction and marine and offshore engineering.
4. To help affected sectors and firms, the Government has provided foreign worker levy rebates and helped companies retain and hire new work permit holders. The Government is also facilitating the safe inflow of new workers to alleviate the manpower crunch.