Rise in employment rate led by older workers, more citizens in PMET jobs: MOM

MOM noted that the employment rate for citizens aged 25 to 64 rose faster in the earlier part of the decade but has since slowed down. (Yahoo News Singapore photo)

SINGAPORE — The rise in Singapore’s employment rate over the past decade has been led by older citizens, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Thursday (23 January).

As of June 2019 last year the employment rate was 63.6 per cent, up from 60 per cent in June 2009 and “driven most consistently by those aged 65 and over”, said the ministry in releasing key findings from an “occasional paper” by MOM’s Manpower Research and Statistics Department.

Between June 2009 and June 2019, the employment rate for citizens aged 25 to 64 rose faster in the earlier part of the decade but has since slowed down, said MOM. Meanwhile, the employment rate for citizens aged 15 to 24 declined in recent years as more people from the group took up further studies.

Noting that Singaporeans form about 85 per cent of the labour force, MOM said that this resulted in labour market trends tracking closely to those of resident data.

On the issue of professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), the ministry said that the share of citizens working as PMETs went from 47 per cent (or 742,800) to 56 per cent (1,050,300) over the same period.

The issue of PMET employment numbers has been at the heart of an ongoing dispute between the government and the Singapore Democratic Party, which has led to the opposition party being hit with three correction orders from MOM in relation to an SDP article.

While the SDP complied with the orders, they also challenged MOM in court over them. The High Court has reserved judgement in the case.

Growth in salaries

MOM also noted that the real median income growth for Singaporeans had gone from 2.1 per cent per annum between June 2009 and June 2014, to 3.9 per cent from June 2009 to June 2014.

“Mirroring the resident trends, income growth among Singapore citizens was faster in the recent five years compared with the earlier five years,” said the ministry.

With regard to unemployment, the seasonally adjusted rate among Singaporeans has been “broadly stable, averaging 3.1 per cent from 2010 to 2019”, said MOM, noting that the rate was 3.2 per cent in June last year.

“This is to be expected because employability is often a key consideration for granting of permanent residency,” said the ministry in explaining last year’s slight increase.

The number of discouraged workers – those who are either not actively seeking employment or have not found jobs after being unemployed for an extended period – has also remained broadly stable for most of the past decade. “It has declined in the past three years to 6,700 in June 2019, making up just 0.3% of the citizen labour force,” said MOM.

In its release, the ministry also reiterated the resources currently available for employers and jobseekers. These include the Adapt & Grow Initiative, Workforce Singapore and NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute, which offer employment facilitation services such as career coaching, employability workshops, job fairs and job matching.

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