Prediction of “stable” hiring prospects for Q3 2019 may not be all-encompassing as unemployment rate continues to rise among Singaporeans in Q1

Following the findings of a new survey predicting employment prospects in Singapore for the third quarter of this year, veteran blogger and financial advisor Leong Sze Hian has suggested that there is an increase in the unemployment rate among Singaporeans in the first quarter this year, while the unemployment rate among permanent residents and foreigners are likely to have decreased.

The Straits Times on Tue (11 Jun), stated that the “resulting net employment outlook” for Q3 2019 “is forecast to remain relatively stable”, based on the latest survey released by recruitment company ManpowerGroup Employment.

While the Labour Market Advance Release First Quarter 2019 report by the Ministry of Manpower’s Manpower Research and Statistics Department revealed “steady” resident and overall unemployment rates, the unemployment rate among Singaporeans exhibits a different trend.

The unemployment rate of Singaporeans in Q1 2019, as seen in Chart 2 below from the report, marked an increase of 0.1 per cent from 3.1 per cent in Dec last year to 3.2 per cent in March this year. The number of unemployed Singaporeans within said period rose from 60,300 to 61,900.

Permanent residents’ and the seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rates, however, remained stagnant or “stable” at 3.0 per cent and 2.2 per cent respectively, as approximately 69,400 residents were unemployed as of Mar 2019, which is lower than the 69,600 recorded in Dec 2018 last year.

Despite the negative trend above for Singaporeans, total employment, excluding Foreign Domestic Workers (FDW), however, continued to grow in the first quarter of this year (12,000), which the report deems “a healthy increase”, as the growth was “significantly higher” than the figures recorded for the same period last year (400), and “lower” than the fourth quarter of last year (14,700).

Employment growth, the report observed, was primarily observed in services sectors such as community, social and personal services, administrative and support services, professional services, financial services, and transportation and storage.

After “eleven consecutive quarters of decline”, the construction sector marked a slight growth in employment, while the manufacturing sector continued to retrench workers.

Moving beyond unemployment rates and on to wages, ST report on 13 Jun “stressed the need to be concerned about inequality and social mobility, with the best ways to tackle these issues being “absolute growth of incomes and absolute mobility that takes all people up”

In this connection, according to the MOM Yearbook of Manpower Statistics 2018 where 2.12 million resident labour force is documented – there were 154,000 resident workers’ wages (including employee CPF) below $1,000; 373,000 below $1,500; 562,000 below $2,000; 765,000 below $2,500; 917,000 below $3.000 – (about 1 in 10 workers below $1,000; 2 in 10 below $1,500; 3 in 10 below $2,000; 4 in 10 below $2,500).

Since the above statistics are for employed residents which include both Singaporeans and Permanent Residents – what are the statistics for Singaporeans? Would the figures that the government is unwilling to reveal, show that Singaporeans are earning far lesser than the majority of PRs on top of having more Singaporeans unemployed?
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