a community of singaporeans

Uniquely Singapore

Posted by theonlinecitizen on March 23, 2008

Uniquely Singapore

Employment statistics

Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the Committee of Supply debate in Parliament on the Ministry of Manpower, and media reports that the economy added 234,900 jobs, up from 176,000 jobs in the previous year.

Of these, 90,400 jobs went to locals last year, down from 90,900 the previous year, but the local share of total jobs created dropped from 52 per cent in 2006 to 38 per cent last year.

A record 46,900 became PRs, in the first 9 months of 2007, and 7,300 became Singapore citizens in the first half of 2007. Therefore, the estimated number of PRs and new citizens for the whole year was 62,533 and 14,600 respectively.

Unemployment rate may have increased

In view of the above estimated record number of new PRs and citizens totalling 77,133 last year, and since the decrease in jobs to locals (Singaporeans and PRs) was 500 (90,400 minus 90,900), the jobs to Singaporeans may have declined, comparing 2007 to 2006.

This, when taken in combination with the statistic that “45,200 residents were unemployed last year, down from 67,600 the previous year”, raises the question as to whether the number of unemployed Singaporeans had actually increased for 2007?

Consequently, the decline in the locals’ unemployment rate from 3.6 to 2.3 per cent, if adjusted for PRs, may mean that the unemployment rate for Singaporeans may have increased.

If the net addition (new entrants less retirees less deaths less emigration) of Singaporeans to the workforce was about 40,000 in a year, and new jobs created for locals was 90,400, why is if that the number of unemployed locals only decreased by 22,400 ?

This is perhaps underscored by media reports that despite a booming economy and nearly full employment, the CDCs were able to find work for only one in four of the 36,000 older job-seekers who sought their help last year.

Whilst the downward revision of the preliminary estimates for jobs added and jobs to locals was only from 236,000 to 234,900 (0.5%) and 92,100 to 90,400 (2%) respectively, the revision for unemployed residents was a whopping 56,900 to 45,200 (21%)!

The revision for the locals’ unemployment rate was also rather large at 23% (from 3% to 2.3%).

Workfare should not be a focus

With inflation hitting a 26-year high, I would like to suggest that NTUC focus on finding out the answers to the above questions, and concentrate on helping unemployed Singaporeans get jobs vis-à-vis non-citizens, instead of focusing on getting 100,000 low-wage workers to contribute to Medisave in order to get Workfare, when 106,000 of them have already dropped out last year because their Workfare is entirely to Medisave without any cash.

Are there any other countries in the world that does not distinguish between its citizens and non-citizens (PRs) in its employment statistics?

In this connection, I find it somewhat puzzling that the MOM can provide for the first time, a breakdown of citizens and PRs, in its latest ad-hoc employment study for 2004 to 2006, but not for all its other reports and statistics. Does this mean that from now onwards, all future reports will provide the breakdown?

The Channel NewsAsia news report on the MOM study was amended three times on the same day (Feb 29,2008). (See screenshots on Mr Brown’s website.)

In 2006, 52 per cent of new jobs went to locals (citizens and PRs), of which 37 per cent went to citizens.

In 2007, 38 per cent of new jobs went to locals.

So, what was the percentage to Singaporeans in 2007? About 20 per cent?

If an adjustment is made for those who became citizens in the year or previous year, the percentage may be lower.

In the light of the above statistics, what’s the point of setting up e2i – the new Employment and Employability Institute, which only helped 230 unemployed find jobs since September, and targeting to secure just 2,000 job placements for the whole of this year, and building up the Lifelong Learning Endowment Fund from its current $ 2.2 billion to its $ 5 billion target, when the wages of low-wage workers keep declining, and the number of low-wage workers keep increasing, with productivity dropping by 0.9 for the last year ?






Uniquely Singapore features every Monday on theonlinecitizen.


22 Responses to “Uniquely Singapore”

  1. Deprived said

    It is time to leave this country to somewhere else to get a job,
    irrespective of whether the grass is greener there or not.

    As I see it, many of the policies and schemes favour foreigners,
    PRs and new citizens, especially those with higher qualifications,
    young and willing to accept a lower pay.

    If our govt does not want us, then we shall leave. My choice is
    to go to Malaysia because I hope one day Malaysia will take back

    I will marry a Muslim girl and become a Muslim as I foresee that
    the Islamic community is getting more and more powerful because
    of their oil wealth. And one day tiny island state like Singapore
    will have to be at their mercy.

    I simply cannot believe my eyes that we are taking in more than
    76,000 foreigners a year. This fact coupled with the lob-sided
    allocation of jobs between foreigners and locals really pissed
    me off. This subtle form of forced transmigration is nothing
    new. Many countries have done that before. Now I understand
    why they have been hiding the statistics from us.

    What the hack! Who cares? After all I am going to leave this
    place sooner or later. Those self-centred elitists can do
    whatever they want. Let it be.

  2. elfredinario said

    Actually, the current interests are concentrated in China. Plenty of opportunities. Choose the right city, have long enough stay, and you’d get a chance to a career.

    I have too long an experience in Singapore, it’s absurd to expect anyone to bother about your life, your career, and whatever. In China, even strangers will try to help you in some way, showing at least attention.

    Nobody will bother about you… Just take care of your own ball.

  3. Gary Teoh said

    It is useless to serve NS,what for sweat for 2 years and then have reservists, on the other hand, foreigners or PRs need not defend our country.What is the use of singing majulah singapura ?

  4. Currently Spared said

    “Of these, 90,400 jobs went to locals last year, up from 90,900 the previous year”… Is this a typographical error? 90,900 to 90,400 is a drop not a “up”. FYI.

  5. Leong Sze Hian said

    Sorry, the intiial preliminary estimate was up

    I have pasted the relevant sentence from the article below

    Whilst the downward revision of the preliminary estimates for jobs added and jobs to locals was only from 236,000 to 234,900 (0.5%) and 92,100 to 90,400 (2%) respectively, the revision for unemployed residents was a whopping 56,900 to 45,200 (21%)!


    Leong Sze Hian

  6. James Michael Parthi said

    Guys,the grass will always be greener on the other side,i’m speaking from experience,even if you were to touch base in Down Under,set up yr own business in the beaches,u r able to make tons of money n become a rich person in a matter of time,as far as i’m concerned,Spore is one of the few countries in the world to pay peanuts to poly n uni grads,the reason they give is due to market conditions,blah,blah,blah…..yeah rite!Even a S-Pass holder can command a decent pay of $1800 without CPF contribution…an ordinary degree holder from the Phils,Myanmar or even India can earn $3k & above!!!Amazing but true!Better migrate to the West!I mean it!

  7. Jason said

    Let me suggest some editing to make the piece easier to read and more useful:
    E.g. if ‘locals’ means the same thing as ‘residents’ i.e. citizens + PRs, just use one of the two terms exclusively.
    E.g. any ‘media reports’ mentioned should be documented. Also, the MOM reports.
    E.g. “number of unemployed locals only decreased by 22,400” – where did the number 22,400 come from?
    E.g. more impactful to say that number of jobs revised down by 1,100, number of jobs to residents revised down by 1,700, so how come number of unemployed residents revised down by 11,700? If anything shouldn’t it be revised up?

  8. Dear Currently Spared,

    Thanks for pointing out the mistake. We’ve corrected it.

  9. Elfred said

    Hey! S$1800 is not decent in current Singapore… …
    S$2800 is barely enough for a decent lifestyle…
    S$5600 is just OK if you have a family…
    S$6800 is OK if you have 4 kids and you are at a stage where all 4 made it to tertiary education.

  10. Gary Teoh said

    True, S pass holder command a salary of $1800, Philipppine degree in engineering fresh graduate $2500, imagine local poly how much they pay? I not too sure

  11. Leong Sze Hian said


    I have tried as far as possible to use the terminology in the media reports or other reports.

    Sometimes, they say locals and sometimes residents. They of course mean the same thing (citizens and PRs).

    The “number of unemployed locals decreased by 22,400” is the previous year’s unemployed locals minus this year’s.

    Without the break-down of the statistics for all time periods, it may not be possible to come to the likely conclusion that the revision was up or down – perhaps the only thing we can try to ask is why the revisions vary so widely for the related data?


    Leong Sze Hian

  12. antz said

    Deprived-Do not feel so let down and marry a Muslim girl.Marrying off will never solve any problem but I believe we gotta face the reality living in a small city state.

    I agreed with deprived stating that i too hope S’pore and M’sia will one day merge (hope i will live to see the day).


    Although the feeling of ‘hatred’ towards them remains as to why back in 1965 M’sia kicked us out.The expel according to my grandad and some of M’sia friends was due to difference in governing views of MM Lee and Tuanku Abdul rahman.Tuanku Abdul Rahman did the expulsion too hastily with whom he later died in regrets.
    M’sia will always be our hinterland just as Taiwan and China.

    For the past years,it seem M’sia is having difficulty in running an efficient government.As it’s half a century old policy that polarized its multi-racial/religious population,one seems thinking when it will finally called itself Malaysia for Malaysian.

    While we here in S’pore are beginning to feel the pinch of too many foreigners.In fact,taking too much of space till i realised the S’pore identity beginning to fade away as time past.
    Where are we heading too?

  13. Adrian said

    I think both countries, Singapore and Malaysia face the same issue and that is with an incumbent government who has been governing since independence and now struggling hard to stay relevant to its voters.

  14. AY said

    Hey fellow Singaporeans, if you have the chance to EMIGRATE, DON’T HESITATE, it will be a blessing in disguise.

    I will have no choice but to emigrate as this government has killed my small-time business. I have been doing the sole-proprietory business charging $X dollar per head for certain training programmes. The government collaborated with NTUC and another tertiary institution and for the same training programmes, they charge each trainee ONE-TENTH of what we have been charging. With the full amount, we already find it hard to survive, yet the government shamelessly undercuts and put the nail to the coffin on many of us. I really ABHOR such moronic behaviour of the government without giving consideration to the sruvival of small-time business people! I am not the only one affected but other providers too.

    If any western or down under country offers you PERMANENT RESIDENCY – TAKE IT WITHOUT HESITATION. You will not REGRET it and you will dsomehow realise that other governments are more considerate and objective in dealing with their own business people.

    Our local government not only ‘kills’ your business, they tax you heavily and lock out your CPF for good – leaving you high and dry in the process. So merciless they are whacking their own citizens and giving more privileges to the Foreign Talents

    SO GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Fever Guy said

    SAD! Another victim of a tyrant garment! Spread the word. Share the stories. Tell your friends and relatives to stop reading ST or watch CNA or listen to any local radio station. They brainwash u since day1…stop making urself useful to a tyranny garment. The world is changing fast…can see how malaysia, thailand and taiwan political landscape has changed? The big one is USA coming soon! I hope olympic is boycotted…GLC companies are there…kanna poor business if it happens.

  16. worried said
    I think our ministers are paid too too much and taking really unhealthy risks where our population measures are concerned. Grow the GDP AT ANY COSTS as their performance bonus is tied too closely to the economy. short term gains. long term pains for population. The anti National service rhetoric will boil over in the next elections and no matter what the size of GRCs, change will come.

  17. Common Good. said

    Grow the GDP at all costs?
    At whose costs?

    Q1: Who will be the winners?
    A1: The Ministers and the Top Civil Servants.

    Q2: Who will be the losers?
    A2: The masses, the ordinary workers, local Singaporeans.

    Q3: What will be the final outcome?
    A3: Happiness for the winners and misery for the losers.

  18. It is high time Singaporeans should voice out their unhappiness over the overcrowding in Singapore. Our population including foreigners is geeting too big.

    Government should stop getting more foreigners to live here. The overall population of about 5.5 millions should be adequate. If we go for higher figure, more Singaporeans will be stressed.

    We should go for 0 % growth but upgrading the old industries.

    If we keep aiming for above 5% growth every year, the amount of foreigner workers need can never end.

  19. Ben said

    the FT policy is a disguise to mask singapore’s desperate need for cheaper workers/graduates to make itself more affordable/attractive to the MNCs they court

  20. EZ said

    Went to a job fair today. What are available are low paying jobs. Take away CPF, transport and food costs, no money to take home. How to work for almost nothing?

  21. xtrocious said

    EZ – that’s why I think the government has painted themselves into a corner and hence need to implement the annuity scheme (really a scheme – one that swindles!)

    Anyway, grass is definitely not greener on many other parts of the fence – I understand that fresh graduates in Malaysia earn a pittance (MYR1800/month) and even those engineering grads in Taiwan get no more than S$1500 equivalent!

  22. Dingo said

    Perhaps we should re-examine planting simple vegetables around our estates. So even if you don’t have work and/or money, at least you’ve got food.

    Boiled potatoes, add salt to taste, can manage.

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