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Is Singapore losing its edge?

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Singaporeans are no strangers to clocking in long hours at work, but new data suggests we have less to show for it than neighbouring countries.

Labour productivity in Singapore has been slipping consistently since Q2 2010, and ICAEW’s Economic Insight: Southeast Asia report noted the long hours we’re working aren’t producing the results they are meant to.

According to the report, productivity in the construction, manufacturing and services sectors fell 3.5% year-on-year in Q4 2012.

However, Singapore’s saving grace lies in its low overall unemployment rate, which stood at 2% in 2012, and an expected GDP rise of 3.6% in 2014 and 3.8% in 2015.

The report noted that while the current local figures are “volatile”, it owes “more to the business cycle than to fundamental shifts that can only be discerned over a longer time frame”.

It suggested Singapore should look at ways it can grow its more productive sectors, as that would boost overall productivity.

“The latest figures offer a positive indication of this: the biggest improvement in Q4 came in finance and ICT, both sectors that promise to add substantially to the island nation’s productive capacity if they keep growing.”

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