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MOM: Non-PMETs experience larger increases in unemployment rate amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has published the Labour Force in Singapore Advance Release 2020 on Thursday (3 Dec), depicting the impact of COVID-19 that layered on different workforce segments.

MOM’s report highlighted that compared to professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), non-PMETs have experienced a larger increase in unemployment and time-related under-employment as industries more severely impacted by COVID-19 have a higher concentration of non-PMETs.

The resident unemployment rate for non-PMETs rose by 1.7 per cent, from 4.7 per cent in June 2019 to 6.4 per cent in June 2020 while the unemployment rate for PMETs rose by only 0.6 per cent, from 2.9 per cent to 3.5 per cent.

MOM however noted that the unemployment rates for both groups “remained below previous recessionary peaks”.

Having said that, the unemployment rates among non-PMETs rose steeply across all age groups.

And while the increase in the unemployment rate for PMETs was comparatively smaller, the corresponding rate for older PMETs aged 50 and over rose sharply from 3.2 per cent in June 2019 to 4.3 per cent in June 2020.

According to MOM, the increase in unemployment rates for both PMETs and non-PMETs were due to shorter-term unemployment periods, as the increase in their long-term unemployment rates was considerably smaller.

Among non-PMETs, long-term unemployment rate rose for residents aged below 30 and in their 40s, but held steady for residents aged 50 and over, while for PMETs, those in their 40s experienced a larger increase in long-term unemployment rate compared to other age groups.

The industries severely affected by the COVID19 outbreak also experienced larger increase in unemployment rate, including accommodation, construction, retail trade and food & beverages services, which the unemployment rate rose by 5 per cent, 2.3 per cent, 2.2 per cent and 1.8 per cent respectively.

Employment rate continued to rise for seniors workers, but fell sharply for youths

The report also found that the resident employment rate has continued to rise for seniors, but declined sharply for youths.

It said that the employment rate for residents aged 65 and over have fell by 0.9 per cent, from 27.6 per cent in June last year to 28.5 per cent in June 2020, owing to the ongoing efforts to raise the employability of senior workers, such as the launching of Special Employment Credit in 2011 to support the senior employment.

For resident youths aged 15 to 24, the employment rate fell by 3 per cent, from 33.9 per cent in June 2019 to 30.9 per cent in June 2020, which also recorded the sharpest decline among all age groups.

As such, MOM explained that it was because over the years, more youths in this age group have remained in education and would have sought part-time job which are often in hospitality-related sectors that were harder hit by the pandemic.

While the employment rate for those who are in their prime working age – aged 25 to 64 – have “remained high” at 80.3 per cent, close to the average of 80.5 per cent in the last five years, MOM said.

Of those age group, the employment rate for female residents fell slightly from 73.3 per cent in June 2019 to 73.2 per cent in June 2020, and also fell for male residents from 88.8 per cent to 87.9 per cent.

Median income fell

The report findings also showed that the real median income growth among full-time employed residents was at -0.3 per cent in 2020, compared with the 2.2 per cent in 2019.

Meanwhile the income of full-timers at the 20th percentile also saw a steep decline, with real income growth contracted by 4.5 per cent and nominal income growth contracted by 4.8 per cent.

For this, MOM reasoned that industries that were more adversely affected by COVID-19 “have a higher concentration of lower-income earners”, including the self-employed workers whose earnings were also reduced.

Over the five-year period between 2015 and 2020, the income growth of full-timers at the 20th percentile which is at 2.9 per cent per annum “remained slightly higher” than the median income growth of 2.7 per cent per annum.

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