99.7% of jobs created in 2015 went to foreigners

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) released its preliminary report on Thursday, announcing an increase of 31,800 or 0.9% jobs created in 2015, the lowest year-on-year growth since 2003.

Out of the 31,800 jobs created, only 100 or 0.3% were taken up by Singaporeans and PR with the rest by foreign workers and domestic workers.

MOM attributed the poor growth in jobs to sluggish global economic conditions and slower growth of the Singapore economy and tightened supply of foreign manpower.

In its report, MOM tried to soften the impact of the poor growth by stating that the job market grew strongly by 96,000 in 2014. However, what is not highlighted, is that the jobs were largely temporary jobs created due to year-end festive in the 4th quarter. (link)

It went on to explain that near zero percent growth of the jobs by Singaporeans and PRs is due to the exit of casual workers in Retail Trade and the slowdown in sectors such as Manufacturing (including Marine) and Real Estate Services.

Citizens should be relieved to know that the zero growth could have been worse, if not for the local job growth in sectors such as Administrative and Support Services, Community, Social and Personal Services (CSP), Professional Services, as well as Financial and Insurance Services.

Preliminary estimates showed that the overall seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dipped slightly from 2.0% in September 2015 to 1.9% in December 2015. Unemployment also eased among residents (3.0% to 2.9%) and citizens (3.1% to 3.0%). The annual average unemployment rate in 2015 was broadly unchanged since 2011 for overall (1.9%), residents (2.8%) and citizens (2.9%).

Foreign employment (excluding FDW) grew at a moderate pace of an estimated (22,600, or 2.0%) in 2015, which is over 70% of jobs created. The growth in foreign employment is said to be driven by the Services sector, at both the Work Permit Holders (WPH) and Employment Pass (EP) level.  The Information and Communications sector accounted for the bulk of EP holder growth, while the Construction, Transport & Storage, Food & Beverage Services as well as Administrative and Support Services sectors contributed to the bulk of the growth in Work Permit Holders.

The report further stated that there has been an increase of 6.5% for the nominal median monthly income from work of full-time employed citizens (including employer CPF contributions) rose by 6.5% over the year to $3,798 in June 2015, or 7.0% in real terms.

Questions from the report

Given the overall growth of jobs for Singaporeans and PRs is only 100, when compared to the number of students graduating in the year minus retirement, migration, and death, the figure of unemployment seems to be puzzling. Furthermore, given that the rate of new citizens and PRs have been increasing based on the rate as provided in the Population White Paper. How much of the 100 jobs went to existing Singaporeans?

Definition of employment and unemployment by MOM has been changed over the years; part-time work is considered as employment along with self-employed such as those who drive for UBER and GRABcar. Is the unemployment situation worse than what is reflected in the figures? The figures also do not account for underemployment, where a citizen has to seek a job that offers a significant lesser wage from his/her former occupation or a lesser job when compared to the qualifications which the citizen possess.

Excluding the employer's CPF contribution,  the median nominal increase was only 2.2% in 2015. Also, MOM withheld the information of how much did the nominal median monthly income for part-time workers increase or decrease in 2015. Part-time workers are also considered in the employment rate.