Labour Market report: Income dropped – 0.7%?

~by: Leong Sze Hian~

I refer to the Labour Market 2011 report released on 15 March. 2011 (see HERE). It states that “Weighed down by higher inflation in 2011, the real average (mean) earnings rose by only 0.7%”.

Since I understand that the data includes employer CPF contributions for employees, what is the real increase, excluding the employer CPF contributions? As I am unable to find the data for the average (mean) earnings without employer CPF, I am unable to calculate this figure.

However, the report does contain the gross monthly median income from work of full-time employed Singapore citizens, excluding employer CPF, which increased in nominal terms by 4.6%, from $2,588 to $2,708, at the 50th percentile. After adjusting for inflation at 5.3%, does it mean that the real income growth was – 0.7%? This may be a far cry from the 1% real income growth including employer CPF?

Recent increases in employer CPF contributions go into the Special and Medisave accounts, which do not increase one's disposable income.

Are there any countries in the world that count matching employers' pension contributions as an increase in the income statistics of workers?

Foreign workers increase to 37.1%?

The foreigners’ share of employment, at 1,197,000 foreigners, was 37.1%.  Excluding FDW (foreign domestic workers), the foreigners’ share of employment was 32.8% in December 2011, up from 31.4% a year ago.

If we include permanent resident (PR) workers, what percentage of the workforce are non-Singaporeans?

Since the report gives the unemployment data for Singaporeans and PRs, why is it that the employment data still lumps them together as locals?

Foreigners grew 7.6%, locals 1.9%

Foreign employment increased by 84,800 or 7.6% in 2011, following the gains of 59,700 or 5.7% in 2010. In contrast, local employment grew by 37,900 or 1.9% in 2011, lower than the 56,200 or 2.9% increase in 2010.

The above statistics do not seem to tally with the consistent rhetoric that the number of foreign workers will be curtailed.

Most unemployed either older or younge

The majority of the unemployed residents in December 2011 were from the two age groups (aged 30: 41% or 22,400; age 40 & over: 40% or 21,600).  The remaining two in ten (19%) or 10,300 unemployed residents were in their 30s.

Most long-term unemployed older?

Two in three (67% or 7,700) of the long-term unemployed residents in December 2011 were aged 40 & over.

Layoffs increase, particularly PMETs and mature workers?

Layoffs increased in the fourth quarter of 2011, to 3,250, higher than the 1,960 laid off in the preceding quarter. For the full year, 9,990 workers were made redundant, slightly higher than the 9,800 in 2010. Close to six in ten (57%) residents made redundant were previously holding PMET jobs.

Nearly two in three (63%) workers made redundant in 2011 were mature residents aged 40 & over, higher than their representation in the workforce (54%).

Workers on short work-week/temporary layoff continued to rise

The number of workers on short work-week/temporary layoff rose for the second consecutive quarter from 660 in the third quarter to 2,720 in the fourth quarter in 2011. This resulted in a higher average of 940 workers per quarter who were placed on short work-week/temporary layoff during 2011, compared with the 410 in 2010.

Rate of re-entry into employment dipped

The rate of re-entry into employment (59%) residents laid off in the third quarter of 2011 secured employment by December 2011. This rate of re-entry into employment within six months of redundancy dipped slightly from 60% in September 2011.

Job vacancies decline

Job vacancies declined by 4.3% over the quarter to 51,700 in December 2011. The non-seasonally adjusted job vacancy rate declined from 2.9% in September to 2.7% in December 2011.

Labour productivity only 1%

Labour productivity declined over the year by 0.4% in the further quarter. For the whole of 2011, overall labour productivity increased by only 1%. This is way below the target of two to three per cent productivity growth that Singapore has set for itself over the next 10 years.

Unit labour cost rose

The unit labour cost (ULC) for the whole economy rose by 1.7% in the fourth quarter of 2011 on a year-on-year basis, following the 1.6% increase in the previous quarter. For 2011, the overall ULC rose by 3.4%,

Employment outlook dimmer

A net weighted balance of 4% of services firms expect headcount to decline in the first quarter of 2012, in contrast to the net weighted balance of 7% of firms that expect to increase employment in the fourth quarter of 2011. In manufacturing, a net weighted balance of 2% of firms expect to reduce employment in the first quarter of 2012.

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