As foreigners depart, Singapore sees population drop for first time since 2003

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore’s population has shrunk for the first time since 2003 as travel curbs and job losses brought about by the coronavirus pandemic have pushed foreign workers from the global business hub.

FILE PHOTO: People wearing protective face masks walk past shops, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Singapore, August 12, 2020. REUTERS/Edgar Su

The overall population dropped by about 18,000 people, or 0.3%, to 5.69 million, according to an annual population report.

A sharp drop in foreigners, down 2% to 1.64 million, as well as a marginal fall in permanent residents, outweighed a modest rise in citizens, some of whom returned from overseas as the pandemic spread globally.

“These trends were largely due to COVID-19 related challenges, brought about by weak demand and travel restrictions,” the report said, citing job losses in services, a sector heavily reliant on low-paid foreign labour.

As the economy faces the

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