Foreign-born Singapore resident population up from 18% to 23%

Singapore Population (Figures in Thousands)

Singapore now has 5.07 million people. But the population is growing more slowly – by 1.8 per cent this year, down from 3.1 per cent last year – with fewer new permanent residents and a lower intake of other foreigners. Several Asian countries have even lower growth rates, including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and India.

The number of Singapore permanent residents has gone up by just 1.5 per cent to 541,000 this year, after an 11.5 per cent increase last year.  There are now 1.3 million non-resident foreigners, up 4.1 per cent this year after a 4.8 per cent increase last year and an astounding 19 per cent jump in 2007.

The Singaporean population has grown only 0.9 per cent to 3.23 million after a 1.1 per cent rise last year. China's  population (1.33 billion) has an even lower growth rate (0.5 per cent in 2008 and 2009 ) and so does Hong Kong (population 7 million after 0.4 per cent growth in 2008 and 0.7 per cent in 2009). Taiwan's population (23.8 million) increased only 0.4 per cent and South Korea's (48.7 million) just 0.3 per cent in both 2008 and 2009 while Thailand's (63.9 million) went up by merely 0.7 per cent in 2008 and 0.6 per cent in 2009.

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How words get into the Oxford English Dictionary

I have seen the word "linguaphile" (meaning word lover or language lover) on and the Free Dictionary, but it's not there in the Oxford English Dictionary. It no longer tries to be comprehensive. "The language is expanding so fast this may be an impossible mission," said Edmund Weiner, deputy chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Mark Abley recalls their conversation in his book, The Prodigal Tongue: Dispatches from the Future of English, where he also writes about Singlish and other variants of the English language, as I mentioned here.

"The Internet poses problems," said Weiner. "We tend to avoid citing the Web unless we feel we really have to. What we've tended to cite are newsgroups and discussion groups – they guarantee to archive them for a long time. We've occasionally taken quotations from websites. But we don't like doing that."

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Foreigners wager more on Singapore than locals

Four out of five dollars invested in or earmarked for business in Singapore is foreign money.

Foreign investors accounted for S$46.8 billion (about $34.2 billion) of the S$57.3 billion investment commitments made in the manufacturing and service industries between 2006 and 2009. Local investors accounted for just about S$10 billion.

In 2008, local investors accounted for only S$1.8 billion against more than S$16 billion from foreigners. And it has been no different this year, with only S$1.3 billion from locals against more than S$6.2 billion from foreigners. Americans have committed nearly S$2.7 billion this year, and the Europeans nearly S$2.8 billion. They have been the biggest investors every year, as you can see from this chart going back to 2006.

Singapore investment commitments by local foreigners between 2006 and 2009


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More people working in Singapore than before

More than 2.99 million of Singapore's 4.99 million population were working by the end of last year. That's more than ever in the last decade, as this chart shows.


The number of jobs actually went up despite the recession. So did unemployment — marginally.

But the good news is overall unemployment fell from 3.4% to 2.1% in the fourth quarter, according to preliminary estimates by the Ministry of Manpower. Unemployment among Singapore residents — citizens and permanent residents — fell from 5% to 3% during the same period.

That can be no consolation for the 87,000 residents who found themselves jobless last year, up from 62,900 in 2008. Overall unemployment rose to 3% last year from 2.2% the year before and, for Singapore residents, from 3.2% to 4.3%.


But as the Manpower Ministry press release says:

Local employment grew by 43,000 in 2009. In contrast, foreign employment fell by 4,200 compared to a record increase of 156,900 in 2008. As at December 2009, there were 1.05 million foreigners forming 35.2% of the 2.99 million persons employed in Singapore. The majority comprising 64.8% or 1.94 million persons employed were locals.

So the number of locals employed has gone up from 1.9 million in 2008. The number of foreigners working has dipped from 1.057 million to 1.053 million. There were just under a million foreigners working in Singapore in 2007 and the figure in 2006 was 756,000.


All the figures in these charts are based on data from the Statistics Department of Singapore and the Ministry of Manpower. The employment figures for 2005 to 2009 are taken from the preliminary estimates given by the ministry at the beginning of the year and for 2004 to 2001 from the ministry's mid-year estimates presented on this page.

Singapore GDP shrinks 2.1% despite 4th quarter jump

Lee-hsien-loong The Singapore economy shrank 2.1 per cent in 2009 despite growing 3.5 per cent in the fourth quarter, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his New Year message today. The economy grew just 1.1 per cent in 2008.

Still, it's good news.

The economy is recovering and the government has been spot-on in its forecast that the gross domestic product would shrink by 2 to 2.5 per cent in 2009.

Now the government has to reduce unemployment, which has gone up to 5 per cent for the local population — Singapore citizens and permanent residents.

The economy grew in the fourth quarter despite manufacturing output dropping by 8.2 per cent in November from the previous year. Manufacturing accounts for about a quarter of the economy.

Clearly, the Prime Minister could not wait to share the good news. The figures were scheduled to be released only on January 4.

This is not taken lightly.

Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam will remember how some Business Times journalists were prosecuted under the Official State Secrets Act for reporting on the government’s preliminary, or “flash”, GDP estimates back in the early 1990s when he was director of the economics department of the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

But PM Lee, Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and the whole government deserve congratulations for steering Singapore back to economic recovery.

PM Lee's predecessor, and now Senior Minister, Goh Chok Tong masterminded two economic recoveries — from the Asian currency crisis in the late 1990s and the Sars epidemic in the early 2000s — and now he has notched up one himself.

PM Lee said:

Our economy is growing again, and has recovered much of the ground since the recession began last year. Our fourth quarter growth is 3.5%, although for the whole year our growth is still negative, at -2.1%. Considering the anxious moments at the depth of the crisis, our subsequent recovery is something to take heart from.

He also had the good sense to acknowledge, even as the government gives more preference to Singaporeans, that Singapore has to remain an open-door economy for its own survival. He said:

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