September 30, 2015 / 9:40 AM / 3 years ago

Singapore's population grows at slowest in more than a decade

A small transportation boat, know as a bumboat, passes skyscrapers and conserved shophouses which had been turned into restaurants and pubs along the Singapore River at Boat Quay May 11, 2015. REUTERS/Edgar Su

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore’s population rose 1.2 percent over the past year, the slowest in more than a decade, as it tried to reduce numbers of foreign workers, while long-standing efforts to encourage citizens to have more children bore some fruit.

The total population stood at 5.54 million as of June 2015, according to data released on Wednesday, including 3.38 million citizens.

The citizen population continued to age, with 13.1 percent 65 or older, compared with 12.4 percent last year, due to slowing fertility rates and increasing life expectancy.

Singapore has for years tried to get its well-educated and well-off citizens to have more children, with little success but births in 2014 rose 7 percent, to 33,193, close to the 2012 level, which was the highest in a decade.

Increasing numbers of foreign workers led to grumbling about high property prices and crowded public transport and in response, the government has been curbing numbers, exacerbating a labor crunch, particularly in manufacturing, services and construction.

Businesses faced a tight labor market but help was at hand, the government said in its 2015 population report.

“The government will support businesses to shift towards skills- and capital-intensive ways to grow, so that businesses can continue to grow and succeed here, to create quality jobs for Singaporeans,” the government said.

Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Robert Birsel

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