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Harder to be re-employed if you’re more educated?

~by: Leong Sze Hian~

I refer to the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) Labour Market Second Quarter 2011 report, released on 16 September (see HERE).

It states that “Total employment grew by 24,800 in the second quarter of 2011. Although the growth was lower than in the preceding quarter (28,300), it is comparable to the second quarter last year (24,900)”

What is the break-down of the employment growth into Singaporeans, permanent residents (PRs) and foreigners?

It also said, “the overall unemployment rate increased from a seasonally adjusted 1.9% in March 2011 to 2.1% in June 2011. Over the same period, the unemployment rate for residents rose from 2.7 per cent to 3.0 per cent”.  My question, “What is the unemployment rate for Singaporeans as the resident rate includes (permanent residents)PRs?”

“the seasonally adjusted ratio of job vacancies to unemployed persons eased to 116 openings for every 100 job seekers in June 2011”, down from the “139 openings per 100 job seekers in March 2011”

“The average monthly recruitment rate eased slightly in the second quarter of 2011. The seasonally adjusted rate was 2.7 per cent, down slightly from 2.8% in the previous quarter”

“Labour productivity slipped by 2.5 per cent over the year in the second quarter”

“Nominal average monthly earnings rose over the year by 6.0% in the second quarter of 2011. This was lower than the growth of 8.5 per cent in the preceeding quarter … Weighed down by inflation, real average monthly earnings rose by 1.3 per cent”


What about median earnings? Since real average monthly earnings rose by 1.3 per cent, could real median earnings have been negative?

Does the statement “unit labour cost (ULC) rose over the year by 10 per cent in the second quarter” mean that productivity has fallen and costs are up?


The report said, “There were 81,200 unemployed residents in June 2011.” Of these, how many are Singaproeans?

“On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, the resident unemployment rate (was) 3.9 per cent in June 2011″, the report said. But those with secondary education’s unemployment rate increased slightly from 4.2 per cent to 4.3 per cent. And Degree holders formed the largest group among the unemployed residents at 19,900 or 24% in June 2011. 8,000 or 9.9 per cent of all unemployed, were degree holders below 30 years old. About 73 per cent of the 19,400 (24 per cent of all unemployed) job seekers with below-secondary qualifications, were mature residents aged  40 and over.

“There was “a rise in the share of those aged 40 and over in the unemployed pool from 42 per cent in June 2010 to 46 per cent in June 2011.”

“Nearly one in five (19 per cent) or 15,500 of the unemployed residents in June 2011 had been looking for work for at least 25 weeks”

“Long-term unemployment generally improved across the education groups, except for diploma & professional qualification holders whose rate edged up from 0.6 per cent to 0.7 per cent”

So, those who have difficulties getting employed seem to be getting older. The long-term unemployment rate was highest, at 0.9%, for those aged 40 and over. So, it would appear that the older you are, the higher may be the incidence of being a long-term unemployed. It also means that the long-term unemployment rate only increased for those who are more educated.


Does the statement “Six in ten (60 per cent) residents made redundant were previously holding PMET positions, disproportionately higher than the composition of PMETs in the resident workforce (52 per cent)”, mean that the more educated had a higher chance of being made redundant.

From the statement, “nearly six in ten (59 per cent) residents laid off in the second quarter of 2011 were aged 40 and above. While the share fell from the 74 per cent in the preceding quarter, it was still higher than their representation in the workforce at 54 per cent”, it appears that older workers were more likely to be made redundant.

The Rate Of Re-Entry Into Employment Of Residents Made Redundant (Within 6 Months Of Redundancy), decreased for those with post-secondary education, but increased for those with secondary and below.So, on a relative basis, it would appear that the more educated you are, the harder it may be to get re-employed.

The report said, “A net weighted balance of 17 per cent of services firms expect to expand headcount in the third quarter of 2011, compared with 18 per cent in the second quarter of 2011”; but what is the breakdown of the total employment level as at June 2011, of 3,158,900, for Singaporeans, PRs and foreign workers?

The number of unemployed residents was 81,200 in June, compared to 54,300 in March. The average monthly nominal earnings at $4,048 in June, was lower than the $4,677 and $,4474, in March and December 2010, respectively. Similarly, the average monthly real earnings at $3,780 in June, was lower than the $4,400 and $4,285, in March and December 2010, respectively.

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