March 15, 2008

Job growth in S'pore higher than in developed nations

By Goh Chin Lian

SINGAPORE stands out among developed countries in achieving strong GDP and employment growth, according to data released by the Manpower Ministry yesterday.

Annual job growth in advanced economies such as Britain, the United States, Hong Kong and Japan typically hover around 3 per cent or lower. But the number of jobs here grew by 9.4 per cent last year, and 7.6 per cent the previous year. A record 234,900 jobs were created last year, surpassing the Government's own projections.

Early last year, MOM had forecast that the economy would add 450,000 jobs over the next five years. Instead, it reached the halfway mark in one year.

The ministry said: 'Singapore's performance is the result of our flexible labour market policies, which have helped the economy grow and created more than sufficient jobs for Singaporeans, including new entrants into the labour market.'

Labour experts pointed out that other factors also made a difference.

To Singapore National Employers Federation executive director Koh Juan Kiat, the key factors that made it possible for employers to hire the record number of people here included:

# The cut in corporate tax rate from 20 to 18 per cent last year;

# Lowering of employers' contributions to the Central Provident Fund; and

# Linking of wages more to performance than seniority.

National Trades Union Congress deputy secretary-general Halimah Yacob said a thriving job scene hinges on trade unions, employers and the Government working together. But Singapore cannot rest on its laurels, she said.

Economic giants such as India and China are on the rise. So is 'an enterprising Vietnam with its huge young population eager to move up the ladder'.