MOM: Employment rate of Singaporeans increased in the past 10 years

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The efforts done to boost employability of older workers have borne fruit seeing that the employment rate of Singapore citizens in June 2019 increased to 63.6 per cent from 60 per cent in June 2009.

According to the paper by Manpower Research and Statistics Department on Thursday (23 Jan), Singaporeans found employment as professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) and their income grew over the period. The report tracked the employment outcomes over the last 10 years.

Workers aged 65 and above made up the citizens that experienced higher employment rate, according to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). The employment rate increased in 2019 to 27.4 per cent from 16.4 per cent in 2009.

The employment rate for those aged 25 to 64 years old also increased to 80.5 per cent from 75.6 per cent over the time period. The earlier part of the decade saw faster growth and it has slowed down as the cohort aged, MOM remarked.

The employment rate for those aged 15 to 24 fell because increasingly these individuals are furthering their studies, according to the report.

Occupation-wise, Singapore citizens employed in PMETs rose steadily to 1,050,300 in June 2019 from 742,800 in June 2009. This marked an increase to 56 per cent from 47 per cent.

In the last five years of the decade, the people have enjoyed higher rate of income growth as well as higher income level. From 2009 to 2014, the real median income growth was 2.1 per cent per year and the figure rose to 3.9 per cent per year between 2014 and 2019. Similarly, the bottom 20 per cent saw an increase from 1.5 per cent per year in the first half to 4.6 per cent per year in the second half of the decade.

The MOM paper stated that policies such as Wage Credit and the Progressive Wage Model contributed to this.

UNEMPLOYMENT

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has been “broadly stable” at 3.1 per cent average from June 2010 to June 2019, MOM reported.

The unemployment rate captures the portion of the labour force that is not employed, excluding those who are unavailable to work and not actively seeking work, such as retirees, students and homemakers.

The study reported that across most age groups, unemployment rate for citizens were lower than average, excluding those below 30 years old at 6.2 per cent.

This can be due to younger people who are searching for jobs, who are exploring different career options as well as those who newly entered the workforce, MOM reported.

On the flip side, older citizens aged 50 and above tend to be unemployed longer even if their unemployment rate is below average. The median duration of unemployment for all unemployed citizens is 8 weeks, compared to those aged 50 and above at 12 weeks in June 2019.

Also, individuals who are not in the labour force due to their perception that they will not get a job, the number of these discouraged workers has also been “broadly stable” throughout the 10 years,  MOM stated. In June 2019, the number fell to 6,700 from the past years, the figure now sitting at 0.3 per cent of the citizen labour force.

MOM concluded that on the whole “employment outcomes of Singapore citizens have been positive over the decade.”

RESIDENT LABOUR MARKET DATA

The labour data of the resident population, namely, Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents (PRs) was also affixed to the paper.

The population of PRs has been stable over time at around 0.5 per cent whereas Singapore citizens have always been the majority at around 8 per cent of the resident labour workforce, MOM reported.

Due to this, the labour market trends of Singapore citizens “track closely” to that of resident data. Income growth, unemployment and employment rates of Singapore citizens follow that of the resident data as shown in the graphs in the paper.

In June 2019, the unemployment rate for Singapore citizens was a bit more than that of all residents at 3.2 per cent compared to 3.1 per cent.

MOM reasoned that this is natural because the resident unemployment rate is “typically lower because PRs typically have to demonstrate a high degree of employability before being granted permanent residency”.

The preface of the MOM paper shows that resident population since 2006 have been used in the labour market papers and statistics. Before that, overall population was used.

This change in population type used is to reflect the growth in foreign population, which makes it now important “to consider not just Singapore’s total population but also the country’s resident population”.

“A further refinement to move away from resident data and release only Singapore citizen data was not made because there was little value from a statistical standpoint to do so… For the most part, resident data mirrors citizen data, and having citizen data in addition to resident data provides little additional information,” the report stated.

Reviews of labour market outcomes of Singapore citizens were also periodically published by MOM, fuller occasional paper in 2011 from the short report in 2008.

The report on Thursday was a continuation of the 2011 report which was originally to be published next year.

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