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According to the latest Labour Force in Singapore advance release 2017, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) Singapore has reported that the unemployment and long-term unemployment rates for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) showed signs of improvement after trending up in recent years. For non-PMETs, the unemployment rate rose, while their long-term unemployment rate remained unchanged.
Meanwhile, the employment rate for residents aged 25 to 64 continued to increase to 80.7% in June 2017. Likewise, the employment rate for residents aged 65 and over increased to 25.8%, but it declined to 34.1% for residents aged 15 to 24.
Other key findings included:
- The labour force participation rate (LFPR) for residents aged 15 and over declined slightly from 68.0% in June 2016 to 67.7% in June 2017, following sustained increases over the decade.
- Median income rose faster year-on-year in June 2017.
- The seasonally adjusted resident unemployment rate rose from 3.0% in June 2016 to 3.1% in June 2017
Labour force trends in Singapore
The report showed that the share of PMETs among employed residents has trended up over the decade from 49% in 2007 to 56% in 2017. Additionally, this was at a faster pace of increase since 2015. Over the decade, there was a decline in the share of clerical, sales and service workers (25% to 23%) and production and transport operators, cleaners and labourers (26% to 21%) among employed residents.
On a bigger scale, the overall labour force participation rate dipped due to population ageing and youths postponing entry into the labour force due to studies. In fact, the employment rate for those aged 15 and over declined, perhaps reflecting the population ageing. Additionally, the release showed a decline in employment rate for youths aged 15 to 24 from 35.8% to 34.1%
However, the employment rate for residents aged 25 to 64 continued to increase, from 80.3% in 2016 to 80.7% in 2017. Likewise, the employment rate for residents aged 65 and over increased from 25.5% to 25.8%.
When it comes to the labour force participation rate (LFPR), residents aged 15 and over declined slightly from 68.0% last year to 67.7% in 2017 – this follows sustained increases over the decade.
Similar to the nation’s employment rate, this is due to population ageing as more residents shifted into the older age groups with significantly lower LFPR, as well as the higher propensity of youths to postpone entry into the labour force.
For residents aged 25 to 64, LFPR increased over the same period for both males and females. While LFPR for males has held steady at around 92%-93% in the last ten years, the LFPR for females continued to rise from 74.9% last year to 75.1% this year.
With the general uptrend in female LFPR and stable male LFPR over the decade, females made up a higher share in the resident labour force in 2017 (45%) than in 2007 (43%). There were 2.27 million residents in the labour force in 2017, comprising 1.24 million men and 1.03 million women.
As economic conditions and demand for higher-skilled manpower improved, the report showed that the nation’s median income grew at a faster pace in 2017. Year-on-year, the nominal median monthly income (including employer CPF contributions) for full-time employed residents increased by 4.3% to $4,232 in 2017 – or 3.7% in real terms (i.e. after adjusting for inflation). This was faster than the growth of 2.7% (nominal) and 3.3% (real) in 2016.
Meanwhile, the median income for full-time employed residents rose by 4.0% p.a. in nominal terms from $3,480 to $4,232 – or 3.4% p.a. in real terms. Supported by initiatives to raise the income of low-wage workers in recent years,7 the income growth at the 20th percentile of full-time employed residents was faster than at the median. The 20th percentile income rose by 4.8% p.a. in nominal terms from $1,740 in 2012 to $2,2008 in 2017, or 4.2% p.a. in real terms.
Real income growth at both the median and 20th percentile were significantly faster than the growth in the preceding five years (i.e. 2007 to 2012), supported by lower inflation.
According to the release, the seasonally adjusted resident unemployment rate rose from 3.0% in June 2016 to 3.1% in June 2017, even though there was sign of improvement in the second quarter of 2017.
Meanwhile, the seasonally adjusted long-term unemployment rate – which captures those who were unemployed for 25 weeks or longer – held steady at 0.7% in June 2017, following a general uptrend since 201511 amid ongoing restructuring. On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, the unemployment rate also rose from 4.1% in June 2016 to 4.2% in June 2017, while the long-term unemployment rate was unchanged at 0.8% over the same period.
As for the PMETs, the unemployment rate fell slightly from 3.1% in 2016 to 3.0% in 2017. The long-term unemployment rate for PMETs also improved from 0.9% in 2016 to 0.7% in 2017. This could have been aided by enhancements to Adapt & Grow programmes which assist PMETs, especially those aged 40 and over, in securing employment.
With the improvement, the long-term unemployment rate for PMETs was similar to non-PMETs in 2017, after surpassing them in the previous two years.
On the other hand, the unemployment rate for non-PMETs rose in 2017 after posting a general improvement from 2009, as they found it harder to secure a job with the continued decline in nonPMET job vacancies. 14 Nevertheless, the long-term unemployment rate for non-PMETs remained unchanged at 0.7% in 2017.
Among non-PMETs, the unemployment rate was higher for clerical, sales and service workers (5.7%) than production and transport operators, cleaners and labourers (3.6%), reflecting their faster staff turnover.
Lead Photo / Ministry of Manpower
Tables / Ministry of Manpower