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Resident employment rate rises above pre-pandemic levels: MOM

SINGAPORE — Singapore’s resident employment rate has risen above pre-pandemic levels, the Ministry of Manpower said on Wednesday (Dec 1), attributing it to the impact of government support measures such as the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package, the Job Support Scheme and Jobs Growth Incentive on boosting jobs.

Resident employment rate rises above pre-pandemic levels: MOM

A report by the Ministry of Manpower showed that the employment rate for residents aged 15 and over has risen significantly from 64.5 per cent in June 2020 to 67.2 per cent in June 2021.

  • MOM issued an advance release of the Labour Force in Singapore 2021 report
  • It showed that the resident employment rate for those aged 15 and over was 67.2 per cent in June 2021
  • That was an improvement on 64.5 per cent in June 2020 and up from 65.2 per cent in pre-pandemic June 2019
  • Resident under-employment rates improved but remained above pre-pandemic levels
  • The nominal income of resident full-time workers rose above pre-pandemic levels

 

SINGAPORE — Singapore’s resident employment rate has risen above pre-pandemic levels, the Ministry of Manpower said on Wednesday (Dec 1), attributing it to the impact of government support measures such as the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package, the Job Support Scheme and Jobs Growth Incentive on boosting jobs.

This was one of the key findings in an advance release of the ministry’s Labour Force in Singapore 2021 report.

The employment rate for residents aged 15 and over has risen significantly from 64.5 per cent in June last year to 67.2 per cent in June this year. It was also higher than June 2019 (65.2 per cent).

The report also noted that while the vast majority of resident employees — citizens and permanent residents — were permanent employees (88 per cent), an increase in demand for temporary manpower for Covid-19-related activities and economic uncertainty led to a new high in the share of those on fixed-term contracts.

This figure came in at 8.4 per cent in June this year, an increase from 7.3 per cent last June.

“Currently, temporary work is largely driven by demand from Covid-19 operations. As the Covid-19 situation stabilises, demand for manpower from these activities will start to fall but we do not expect demand to completely disappear,” the report said.

“Fixed-term contracts of one year or less were already rising in pre-Covid years. Hence, while the proportion is unlikely to remain at this heightened level, it may possibly settle above pre-Covid norms.”

Manpower Minister Tan See Leng, ​​who addressed the media after a visit to Raffles Hotel Singapore, said: “While we see improvements being made in strides, we have to bear in mind that we are not fully back to pre-Covid levels, and we are not completely out of the woods, especially when there’s so much news of world governments, healthcare systems grappling with the new Omicron variant.”

The following are some of the other key findings of the report.

1. Resident unemployment rates improved but remained above pre-pandemic rates

  • The unemployment rate for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) edged down from 3.5 per cent in June 2020 to 3.4 per cent in June 2021

  • The unemployment rate for non-PMETs improved from 6.4 per cent in 2020 to 5.1 per cent in 2021

  • Unemployment rates improved in most age groups

  • The exceptions were PMETs and non-PMETs in their 40s, with some leaving their last jobs as they were dissatisfied with some aspects of the job such as demanding work and lack of interest

  • The resident long-term unemployment rates held steady at 0.8 per cent for PMETs and 0.9 per cent for non-PMETs after increasing last year

2. Resident under-employment rates improved but stayed above pre-pandemic rates

  • These are defined as residents aged 15 and over who normally work fewer than 35 hours a week but are willing to do more work

  • The percentage of these workers out of all employed workers eased from 4.1 per cent in June 2020 to 3.5 per cent in June 2021, though it remains above pre-pandemic rates

  • Most groups experienced improvements, including lower-educated and older workers who were more affected last year

  • Affected by the suspension of dining services and in-person tuition or enrichment classes during the heightened alert period, time-related under-employment rates were highest in the food-and-beverage, services and education sectors in June 2021, and their rates were also higher than pre-pandemic levels

3. Nominal median income of full-time employed residents also rose above pre-pandemic levels

  • Grew by 3.2 per cent in June 2021 to S$4,680, up from S$4,534 in June 2020

  • After accounting for inflation, real median income growth was smaller but remained positive at 1.1 per cent, more than offsetting the decline of 0.4 per cent in 2020

  • Income at the 20th percentile of full-time employed residents rose by 4.6 per cent in real terms in 2021, and recovered to around its pre-pandemic level. The 20th percentile income refers to the income level that divides the bottom 20 per cent of income earners from the rest

  • When compared over a five-year period between 2016 and 2021, real income growth for middle- and lower-income earners remained positive

4. Working from home owing to Covid-19 remained prevalent

  • The proportion of employed residents who worked from home remained high at 46 per cent in June 2021

  • This is lower than the 49 per cent a year earlier, as more workplaces allowed more workers on site

  • Industries where there was greater need for workers to be on site, those that used specialised equipment or required face-to-face interactions saw more workers returning to their workplace

5. Large decrease in residents outside the labour force

  • With the labour force participation rate growing significantly, there was a correspondingly large drop in the number of residents outside the labour force from 1,100,800 in 2020 to 1,004,400 in 2021

  • This reflected a sharp fall in the number of recent job leavers who were outside the labour force, such as those who had left their last jobs within the last six months

  • There were also fewer residents outside the labour force without work experience, as more youth participated in the labour force and the numbers in mature age groups gradually trended downwards in the midst of rising female labour force participation

When asked whether the report had tracked the income growth of gig or freelance workers over the years and also if there were any updates on efforts to better protect these workers, Dr Tan said that the ministry does not have the statistics tracking such workers.

“Let me check with the team for the other surveys that we have conducted to see if there are any proxies that we could use to at least give some form of an indicator, and I think it's also a good suggestion for future studies. We will try to incorporate (this when) following up, in terms of their numbers as well,” he said.

Dr Tan said that a workgroup has been formed looking into how to protect the rights of the self-employed, particularly platform and gig workers.

“There are a couple of initiatives that we're looking at. One is from the perspective of the natural retirement adequacy and also from the perspective of some form of insurance, should they get involved in accidents, and to support the healthcare needs as well.

“And the third thing is, of course, representation — some form of union representation to speak up for them. So that is part and parcel of a wider study. I think the work is well under way,” he said.

He added that he is “cautiously optimistic” that he will be able to showcase some progress early next year.

Dr Tan was also asked, with the Omicron coronavirus variant lurking, how is the forecast expected to change.

“Today, it’s still very early on so I don’t think we are in any particular position to comment. I think, suffice to say, earlier on (Health) Minister Ong Ye Kung has said that dealing with it is really like snakes and ladders.

“We remain stoic in terms of being very responsive in terms of the type of support that’s needed and to be very precise and also very targeted to those specific areas where support is most needed. At this particular point in time, that is the most nuanced strategy moving forward.”

Related topics

MOM labour force unemployment Jobs Covid-19 coronavirus

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