Singapore population rises 1.3% to 5.61 million

Channel NewsAsia 27 Sep 16;

SINGAPORE: Even as more Singaporeans had babies last year, Singapore’s population growth remained low, rising 1.3 per cent to reach 5.61 million in June.

The statistics, released on Tuesday (Sep 27) by the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) in its annual Population in Brief report, also showed that the number of citizens rose by 1 per cent to 3.41 million, through births and immigration.

The number of permanent residents (PRs) remained relatively stable at 520,000, compared to 530,000 in June 2015.

The non-resident population – largely comprised of foreigners working in Singapore and their families, as well as students – grew by 2.5 per cent to 1.67 million, compared to 2.1 per cent the previous year. Stronger growth was seen in the number of foreign domestic workers and Singaporeans’ dependents on long-term visit passes, the NPTD noted in its report.

Measures taken by the Government to mitigate the inflow of foreigners saw foreign employment growth from June 2015 to June 2016 – excluding foreign domestic helpers – remaining low at 27,000 after reaching a high of 77,000 in 2012. But the number was higher compared to a year ago, when 23,000 foreign employment – excluding maids – grew by 23,000.

“Foreign workforce growth will continue to be moderated to supplement our local workforce in a sustainable manner. To stay competitive in a tight labour market, businesses will need to re-design jobs and restructure to become more manpower-lean and productive,” the NPTD said.

There were 20,815 new citizens last year, largely unchanged from the previous three years. About 38.9 per cent of them were aged 20 and below, 13.4 per cent aged between 21 and 30, 27.1 per cent aged between 31 and 40, and 20.5 per cent aged above 40.

The majority (58.7 per cent) of the new citizens were from other Southeast Asian countries, while 35 per cent were from other parts of Asia and 6.3 per cent from other countries outside of Asia.

The Government takes a “calibrated approach to immigration”, and plans to continue taking in between 15,000 and 25,000 new citizens each year to prevent the citizen population from shrinking, the report said.

- CNA/cy

Singapore’s population grows 1.3% to 5.6 million
AMANDA LEE Today Online 28 Sep 16;

SINGAPORE — Singapore’s population grew 1.3 per cent to reach 5.6 million as of June, amid a spike in the number of births last year, while the citizen population continues to age, the annual population brief released on Thursday (Sept 27) by the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) showed.

And despite the slowing economy, foreign employment growth increased by 27,000 from June last year to June this year, reversing the declining trend since 2011-2012 — from 77,000 that year, the figure moderated to 60,000, 33,000, then 23,000.

Analysts said this phenomenon was not unseen in other countries, and could be due to Singaporeans not taking up jobs in some industries, such as those that are labour-intensive.

The number of non-residents grew by 2.5 per cent to 1.67 million, mainly foreigners working here and their families, as well as international students. There was stronger growth in the number of foreign domestic workers (FDWs) and dependents of Singaporeans who are on Long-Term Visit Passes.

“The increase in FDW population growth reflects Singaporeans’ rising desire to augment their own care for their children and elderly,” said the NPTD.

There were 33,725 Singaporean babies born last year, the highest number in more than 10 years.

Nevertheless, the proportion of citizens aged 65 and above continued to grow, from 13.1 per cent in June last year to 13.7 per cent this June. The figure was 10.1 per cent in 2010.

“With increasing life expectancy and low fertility rates, our citizen population is ageing quickly,” said the NPTD. “There has been a significant increase in the number of citizens aged 65 years and above in the past decade, with more of our ‘post-war baby boomers’ entering their silver years.”

Sociologists cautioned against over-reliance on FDWs for the care of their elderly loved ones, given that these workers are “not particularly well-trained or equipped to handle (their) specific needs”, said Mr Christopher Gee, senior research fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies.

“This may be compounded if the eldercare responsibilities are combined with general household chores as well”, he added.

National University of Singapore (NUS) sociologist Tan Ern Ser added that apart from FDWs, Singaporeans could tap on other resources to look after the elderly, such as by mobilising their relatives or neighbours, or turning to daycare centres and the use of monitoring technology.

But Mrs Samantha Chung, 36, who has two domestic helpers at home, said she needs them to help look after her two young children.

“We are also not able to tap on our parents for help because my parents are helping to look after my nephew, while my husband’s mother is getting on in age,” said Mrs Chung, who works in the media industry.

“The only way in which I can see us having only one helper in the near term (perhaps for another two years) is if either my husband or I become a stay-at-home-parent or if we change to jobs with more family-friendly working hours,” she added.

The old issue of Singaporeans shunning certain jobs could explain the increase in foreign employment growth, said economists.

Noting that Singapore is an ageing society, CIMB Private Banking economist Song Seng Wun also pointed out that there is a demand for workers in the healthcare sector. “It is still a sector which continues to face shortage (of manpower) so therefore (these jobs have) to be (taken by) foreign professionals,” he said.

SIM University senior lecturer Walter Theseira pointed out that research from other cities shows that immigrants — foreign and domestic — also take up a substantial amount of employment relative to “locals”, even when the economy is not doing well.

“For example, when considering a global city such as London, migration can be from both external to the UK as well as ... from other British cities,” he said. “Singapore has no hinterland and so all economic migrants are foreign.”

Dr Theseira added that some jobs are “relatively undesirable” to Singaporeans or require specialised skills that few Singaporean jobseekers have.

“In such a case, refusing to hire the best qualified foreign applicant may make Singaporeans worse off, overall,” he said.