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Article: Singapore’s Labour Market Competitiveness Rises to Fourth Place
Released on:23/6/2023 2:00 PM

​​​​​Singapore’s Labour Market Competitiveness Rises to Fourth Place​​​

​Every year, the Institute for Management Development (IMD) releases the World Competitiveness Ranking, which analyses and ranks1  the competitiveness of economies.

Overall World Performance​


In 2023, Singapore ranked 4th out of 64 economies in terms of Overall World Competitiveness, down one spot from 2022 (3rd). The top ranks were occupied by Denmark, Ireland and Switzerland. Singapore’s slight decline over the year was due to strong improvements from Ireland in their economic performance. Singapore remained the top Asia-Pacific economy.​

Labour Market Competitiveness


Singapore placed 4th for Labour Market competitiveness, improving significantly from 12th in 2022. ​

Strong improvements in the labour force amid economic recovery from the pandemic​​​


* An economy where workers work longer hours will get a higher rank.

The greatest improvements were seen for Labour Force Growth and Female Proportion of Total Labour Force. This showed Singapore’s strong and quick labour market recovery post-COVID, compared to other countries in 2022. Employment increases were boosted by improvements in resident employment and the hiring of foreign workers to backfill vacancies. However, the high rank and strong improvement may not be sustained in the longer-term, given Singapore’s relatively smaller and ageing population. Indeed, Singapore’s ranking for these two indicators were lower pre-pandemic in 2019.

Singapore’s ranking on Working Hours rose in 2022. Nonetheless, MOM’s data showed that usual hours worked has been on a downward trend over the decade2.​

Business executives had weaker sentiments towards Singapore as a location for doing business

Various opinion-based indicators on companies’ priorities, skills availability and training in the workforce saw declines in rank compared to 2022. In particular, ranking relating to business executives’ perception in Singapore’s ability to Attract & Retain Talents and foster Worker Motivation were also significantly lower when compared to pre-COVID business sentiments in 2019.​

Notwithstanding the fall in ranking, our ranking on limited Brain Drain in the economy, International Experience of senior management and Availability of Skilled Labour remained high within the top quartile of all economies ranked in 2023.


Overall, Singapore’s labour market improved in IMD’s World Competitiveness Ranking 2023. A few pain points relating to skills availability and training bear further monitoring to remain competitive in the coming years. For their long-term growth, firms should also take stronger ownership of cultivating talent and boosting employee morale, and are encouraged to make full use of government-wide initiatives to reskill/upskill their workforce. ​

1  ​Ranking is based on hard data from national and international sources, as well as perception-based survey responses from business executives working in the economy.
2  Usual hours worked (per week) for full-time employed residents fell from 48.2 in 2012 to 44.6 in 2022.