Record Economy Growth Encourages Hiring and Wage Increase,
Drives Higher Targets and Productivity Innovation
Singapore's economy is in contention to be the world's fastest-expanding in year 2010 as rising demand for goods and services prompted the government to raise growth forecasts for the third time this year.
Singapore's Ministry of Manpower cited, "Employment continued to grow in the second quarter of 2010 as the economy expanded strongly. Unemployment has broadly stabilized, after declining sharply at the end of last year." A Bloomberg News survey of nine economists estimates the median jobless rate in Singapore to be 2.1 per cent. During the last quarter, 27,400 jobs were added in the service industry, while construction companies increased hiring by 1,800. However, the manufacturing industry cut 2,400 jobs. Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) had recently upgraded Singapore's 2010 GDP growth forecast to a blistering 13 to 15 per cent. The revision followed the 16.9 percent year-on-year GDP growth in the first quarter, and 19.5 per cent for the second-quarter expansion. Growth acceleration at 18.1 per cent in the first half of the year was recorded as the fastest pace since records began in 1975.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore's economy is on a "firm path" towards a record year. Speaking to reporters in Houston Texas, Mr Lee attributed the rebound of the Singapore economy mainly to the success of the two integrated resorts and a sharp increase in pharmaceutical output. He said the two resorts, which opened early this year, "made a significant difference" and boosted tourism in Singapore. Mr Lee described it as "a good result" but warned, "we should understand that it doesn't mean that next year you're going to get this, and the year after that you're going to get this." Mr Lee said Singapore needs to press on with restructuring and improving productivity to sustain long-term growth.
The Government had adopted the goal of growing productivity by 2 to 3 % per year over the next decade, or about 30% cumulatively, following the recommendations of the Economic Strategies Committee. 2 to 3% productivity growth is more than double the 1% growth Singapore achieved in the last 10 years. Singapore's Minister for Finance - Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam stressed that this will be a major challenge for any economy at our level of development, but that it could be achieved through the concerted efforts of employers, workers and Government - to upgrade skills and re-design jobs, seek new opportunities for companies to grow, and restructure the economy. Singapore targets to raise incomes for average Singaporeans by 30% in the next 10 years.
As for the current year, Minister and secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) - Mr Lim Swee Say says that workers can expect much better wage increases this year, given the strong economic rebound. He elaborated that Singapore's second quarter economic performance was nothing short of impressive - spelling hope for wage increases. However, he reminded companies to be more innovative in their productivity drive instead of getting their workers to work long hours. "When we talk about improving productivity, we're not talking about getting workers to work longer hours, because that is not sustainable," Mr Lim said. "So, we have to find ways to work smarter, in a more productive manner, so that higher output need not necessarily be done at the expense of the work-life balance." Working smarter could mean improving service innovation standards. Japanese food chain Sakae Sushi did just that - it adds Vitamin E to its sushi rice without additional manpower costs. Chief executive of Sakae Holdings - Mr Douglas Foo explained, "That differentiates our rice from other Japanese counterparts who are offering the same sushi rice. But the adding of Vitamin E does not require additional time, so to speak." With this, Mr Foo urged small and medium enterprises to look at innovative breakthroughs to gain competitive edge.