More Singapore residents working as freelancers

There were 211,000 residents who did freelance work as a regular form of employment in 2019. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

More resident workers were in freelance jobs last year, even as their share of the workforce declined because there were more salaried employees.

There were 211,000 residents who did freelance work as a regular form of employment last year, slightly more than the 210,800 who did so in 2018.

Last year, they made up 8.8 per cent of the resident workforce, which comprises Singaporeans and permanent residents, down from 9.3 per cent.

More of them - 19,600 last year, up from 14,800 - felt forced to turn to freelancing as their main job because they could not find work as an employee. But this is lower than the figures in the preceding two years.

More people also took on freelance work as a side job, on top of a main job.

These are among the findings in a report released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) yesterday on the resident labour force as of June last year.

The most common jobs among residents whose main job was freelancing included driving taxis and private-hire cars, and working as insurance agents.

DBS senior economist Irvin Seah said the increase in the number of freelancers is probably a spillover effect from the softer economic conditions last year.

"Some workers may have had trouble finding jobs as job vacancies declined," he noted.

The MOM survey also found that the share of part-timers among the resident workforce continued to rise, to 11.2 per cent last year, up from 10.9 per cent in the previous year.

The increase was led by part-timers who were not professionals, managers, executives and technicians.

Time-related under-employment - when part-timers are willing and able to work additional hours - eased last year after increasing for two consecutive years. It affected 3.1 per cent of the resident workforce, down from 3.3 per cent in 2018.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 31, 2020, with the headline More Singapore residents working as freelancers. Subscribe