Uniquely Singapore

Employment statistics

Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the Committee of Supply debate in Parliament on the Ministry of Manpower, and media reports that the economy added 234,900 jobs, up from 176,000 jobs in the previous year.

Of these, 90,400 jobs went to locals last year, down from 90,900 the previous year, but the local share of total jobs created dropped from 52 per cent in 2006 to 38 per cent last year.

A record 46,900 became PRs, in the first 9 months of 2007, and 7,300 became Singapore citizens in the first half of 2007. Therefore, the estimated number of PRs and new citizens for the whole year was 62,533 and 14,600 respectively.

Unemployment rate may have increased

In view of the above estimated record number of new PRs and citizens totalling 77,133 last year, and since the decrease in jobs to locals (Singaporeans and PRs) was 500 (90,400 minus 90,900), the jobs to Singaporeans may have declined, comparing 2007 to 2006.

This, when taken in combination with the statistic that “45,200 residents were unemployed last year, down from 67,600 the previous year”, raises the question as to whether the number of unemployed Singaporeans had actually increased for 2007?

Consequently, the decline in the locals’ unemployment rate from 3.6 to 2.3 per cent, if adjusted for PRs, may mean that the unemployment rate for Singaporeans may have increased.

If the net addition (new entrants less retirees less deaths less emigration) of Singaporeans to the workforce was about 40,000 in a year, and new jobs created for locals was 90,400, why is if that the number of unemployed locals only decreased by 22,400 ?

This is perhaps underscored by media reports that despite a booming economy and nearly full employment, the CDCs were able to find work for only one in four of the 36,000 older job-seekers who sought their help last year.

Whilst the downward revision of the preliminary estimates for jobs added and jobs to locals was only from 236,000 to 234,900 (0.5%) and 92,100 to 90,400 (2%) respectively, the revision for unemployed residents was a whopping 56,900 to 45,200 (21%)!

The revision for the locals’ unemployment rate was also rather large at 23% (from 3% to 2.3%).

Workfare should not be a focus

With inflation hitting a 26-year high, I would like to suggest that NTUC focus on finding out the answers to the above questions, and concentrate on helping unemployed Singaporeans get jobs vis-à-vis non-citizens, instead of focusing on getting 100,000 low-wage workers to contribute to Medisave in order to get Workfare, when 106,000 of them have already dropped out last year because their Workfare is entirely to Medisave without any cash.

Are there any other countries in the world that does not distinguish between its citizens and non-citizens (PRs) in its employment statistics?

In this connection, I find it somewhat puzzling that the MOM can provide for the first time, a breakdown of citizens and PRs, in its latest ad-hoc employment study for 2004 to 2006, but not for all its other reports and statistics. Does this mean that from now onwards, all future reports will provide the breakdown?

The Channel NewsAsia news report on the MOM study was amended three times on the same day (Feb 29,2008). (See screenshots on Mr Brown’s website.)

In 2006, 52 per cent of new jobs went to locals (citizens and PRs), of which 37 per cent went to citizens.

In 2007, 38 per cent of new jobs went to locals.

So, what was the percentage to Singaporeans in 2007? About 20 per cent?

If an adjustment is made for those who became citizens in the year or previous year, the percentage may be lower.

In the light of the above statistics, what’s the point of setting up e2i – the new Employment and Employability Institute, which only helped 230 unemployed find jobs since September, and targeting to secure just 2,000 job placements for the whole of this year, and building up the Lifelong Learning Endowment Fund from its current $ 2.2 billion to its $ 5 billion target, when the wages of low-wage workers keep declining, and the number of low-wage workers keep increasing, with productivity dropping by 0.9 for the last year ?






Uniquely Singapore features every Monday on theonlinecitizen.

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