by Leong Sze Hian
I refer to the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) “Employment Situation in Fourth Quarter 2010” report released on 31 January.
It states that “Local employment grew by 54,200 in 2010, exceeding the 41,800 gains in 2009. With the strong economic recovery and higher demand for manpower, foreign employment increased by 58,300 in 2010, after declining by 4,200 in 2009”.
This means that employment for locals grew by 12,400, whereas employment for foreigners grew by 62,500.
Despite all the rhetoric and assurances that the import of foreign workers will be scaled back, these latest statistics seem to reveal otherwise.
The fact which I believe no media report has highlighted is that foreign employment growth was five times that of locals.
If we adjust for permanent residents (PRs) from the locals data, how much of the employment growth was for Singaporeans?
Since the number of new citizens and PRs was 48,023 (29,265 PRs and 18,758 new citizens) last year, how many of the 54,200 growth in local employment went to Singaporeans?
According to the report, as at December 2010, there were 1,990,700 locals forming 64.2% of the 3,102,500 persons employed in Singapore. The remaining 35.8% or 1,111,800 were foreigners.
Since we do not have the break-down for locals into Singaporeans and PRs, if about 20 per cent of local workers are PRs, then the total proportion of non-Singaporean workers may be inching close to half the total workforce.
The overall unemployment rate also rose slightly to a seasonally adjusted 2.2% in December 2010 from 2.1% in September 2010. Among the resident labour force, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.1%.
Why is it that the unemployment rate has risen in the light of Singapore’s record 14.7 GDP growth and frequent media reports of a very tight labour market, over the last few months?.
Since there were 48,023 new citizens and PRs last year, I surmise that the Singaporean unemployment rate (if known) may have risen, given that the growth in local employment was on a relative to “new citizens and PRs” context, only 54,200.
By the way, the non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for locals increased from 2.6 per cent in the third quarter to 2.7 per cent in the fourth quarter.