Record job vacancies = Declining wages?

By Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the article “Record 15,360 job vacancies unfilled: MOM” (ST, Jan 28).

It states that “The number of job vacancies left unfilled for at least six months soared to a five-year high of 15,360 in September last year – a 51.5 per cent spike from the 10,140 a year ago”.

Now, if you think that this spells more openings for the locals and therefore it is good news, think again.

One of the primary reasons why job vacancies are left unfilled for extended periods may be attributed to the wage decline in certain job sectors.

Let me go on to substantiate my statement above.

Wage dropped 32% in 1 year?

Comparing MOM’s report: Job Vacancies, 2009 and Job Vacancies, 2010, the 25th percentile gross wage of civil engineering/building construction laborers dropped by 32 per cent from $800 in 2009 to $546 in 2010.


This category occupies the second highest seat for overall job vacancies with a 56.8 per cent incidence of vacancies unfilled for at least six months. This category includes occupations such as transport operators, cleaners and laborers. In addition, office cleaners and waiters registered a decrease in 25th percentile gross wage from $700 to $697 and $930 to $879 respectively. (As these are nominal wages, they would have to be lowered to account for inflation adjustments.)

Waiters, for example, occupies the second highest job vacancy placing in the clerical, service and sales category at 2,150 openings. The primary reason may be because they receive the lowest pay for this category as well.

Highest vacancies in low paying jobs?

Service and sales workers accounted for the highest number of vacancies, at 10,330 or 22 per cent of the total job vacancies.

Since the services share of vacancies increased steadily from 68 per cent in 2006 to 75 per cent in 2010, reflecting the “growing importance of the service economy”, I thus refer that most of the job vacancies may be for lower paying jobs.

Many probably don’t earn enough to support their family. With reference to this statement: “Amid the tighter labor market, one in three (33 per cent) vacancies in 2010 were unfilled for at least six months,” one of the primary contributing factors to the tight labour market may be declining wages in jobs which pay so little. Hence this results in workers not being able to survive and feed their families, assuming they took on such jobs.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments