150,000 unemployed, under-employed or long-term unemployed?

By S Y Lee and Leong Sze Hian

We refer to the debate in Parliament about manpower on 4 November, and the article “Why Singapore graduates aren’t getting the right jobs” (CNBC, Oct 17).

2.3% of graduates under-employed?

The article by CNBC states that in 2013, 2.3 percent of graduates were underemployed – highly skilled workers engaged in low-paying or low-skilled positions or that could only find part-time jobs – a tick higher from 2.2 percent in 2012, according to the Ministry of Manpower of Singapore. The government analyzed five qualification levels; degree holders were the group in which underemployment increased.

5.9% unemployed or under-employed?

If we add the the overall unemployment rate amongst degree holders of 3.6 per cent in June 2013 to the above graduates’ under-employment rate of 2.3% – we get a total of about 5.9%.

6.7% unemployed, under-employed or long-term unemployed?

If we add the resident long-term unemployment rate (no breakdown into Singaporeans) of degree holders of 0.8% to the above – we get a total of about 6.7%.

How many % unemployed, under-employed, long-term unemployed or economically inactive?

“While the overall number of economically inactive residents rose a mere 8 per cent, the number of economically inactive degree holders surged 124 per cent over the last decade to last year”

If we add economically inactive graduates to the above estimated 6.7% – how many are we looking at?

Degree holders have the worse statistics?

According the article, the reported figures from 2013 show that 18,600 degree holders are unemployed, making up close to a third of the overall 59,800 who are unemployed. The numerical gap has been widening, with the figure overtaking those of the groups with secondary and below-secondary qualifications in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

The unemployment rate for degree holders used to be the lowest before 2012, but has since overtaken those of groups of other qualification levels.

To worsen matters, the long- term unemployed number and corresponding unemployment rate of resident degree holders display the same worsening trends. Last year, there were 5,100 degree holders among the long-term unemployed, translating to a rate of 0.8 per cent.

150,000 Singaporeans?

So, are we looking at a total of about 150,000 Singaporeans, and about more than 100,000 graduates who are unemployed, under-employed or long-term unemployed?

7.4% unemployment rate for younger degree holders?

For younger degree holders – it is even worse as “In June last year, the rate of unemployment among degree holders below 30 was 7.4 per cent”.

Foreign workers grew 3.8%?

It did not help the above Singaporeans when on-year foreign employment growth was 3.8 per cent in June 2014, with total foreign employment growth of 52,200 excluding Foreign Domestic Workers (FDWs).

Cannot tell how many employed Singaporeans first?

Finally, it does not help when the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) is only able to give statistics of how many employers participated, but not how many Singaporeans were hired (“Parliament: 12,700 employers on National Jobs Bank portal within two months of launch“, Straits Times, Nov 5).