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Singapore’s population drops for first time since 2003

Bloomberg September 25 | Updated on September 25, 2020 Published on September 25, 2020

Reduction in foreign employment in service secor due to the Covid-19 pandemic a major contributor

Singapore’s total population has fallen for the first time in 17 years as the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic saw less foreigners working in the city-state.

The southeast Asian nation’s total population dropped 0.3 per cent to 5.69 million as of June from a year ago largely due to a reduction in foreign employment in the services sector, according to Singapore’s annual population report released on Thursday. The total population, which include citizens, permanent residents, foreign workers and students, last fell in 2003 to 4.11 million from 4.18 million the year before.

Also read: Singapore posts bigger GDP contraction in second quarter

The non-resident population was 1.64 million as of June 2020, a decrease of 2.1 per cent from June 2019 and the lowest since 2015. By visa type, work permit holders saw the largest decrease.

These trends were largely due to Covid-19 related challenges, brought about by weak demand and travel restrictions, according to the report.

Foreign workers became a key election issue this year, with several opposition candidates campaigning that jobs are getting taken away from locals. The government has, in recent weeks, taken more steps to promote hiring of Singaporeans and has tightened its framework for issuing employment passes for foreigners.

Separately, Singapore’s proportion of citizens who are at least 65 years old has increased to 16.8 per cent from 10.1 per cent in 2010. The government is projecting this group will account for nearly a quarter of the citizen population in 2030.

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Published on September 25, 2020
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