Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Unemployment Truth.....the real statistics...

One of the most peculiar things about our unemployment statistics is that it has always been released for the "resident" (PR+citizens) population so we don't know what the numbers are for Singaporeans. However, some light shed on 11 Oct 2011 when MoM finally released the numbers for citizens and here they are (extracted from the report "Singaporeans in the Workforce":

"Singaporeans have one of the highest employment rates internationally. The unemployment rate amongst citizens declined to 3.1% in June 2011, down from a high of 4.5% in 2009 during the recession."

"Singaporeans have one of the highest employment rates internationally. With nearly eight in ten (77%) Singaporeans aged 25 to 64 employed in 2010, our employment rate surpassed that in the other Asian NIEs and many advanced economies. This has occurred because, although our citizen labour force participation rate is not higher than in many advanced economies"

We have to be careful about unemployment rates because if the situation is so bad that people give up looking for a job, they do not go into the unemployment numbers. There are also various criteria used to count people considered unemployed so many people have no jobs but are not considered unemployed. For countries that give out unemployment benefits, there is more incentive for the unemployed to get themselves registered. In Singapore you probably can't get any financial help if you're unemployed so it is possible for you to go below the radar and the govt assumes you're in early retirement! When the mainstream media talk about unemployment in other countries we sometimes get the impression that Singapore is spectacularly better because we have unemployment of 3% and some European countries have unemployment of 14% so our situation here is much better - this however, is not the real picture.

The preferred number to look at for some economists is the employment rate and this too came out in the Oct 11 report. Our citizen employment rate is 77% of the employable population. 23% of the employable people are not working. How does this stack up?


When you look at employment rate, the situation in Singapore still looks good but the difference is smaller than if you look at unemployment rate.  Now lets throw in another aspect to consider when looking at the numbers. Most if not all the countries in the table have minimum wages so people who have jobs in those countries found one that paid decent wages. We don't have minimum wages in Singapore.  If we now minus those who don't make enough for a decent living from the 77% we end up with a number much smaller. There are 400,000 workers on workfare[Link] who are considered employed but earn less than $1700 (generally less than the minimum wage in developed countries)....you take that out from the 77% employment rate and you find we drop quite far down. I've often written that it is meaningless to look at employment without looking at wages - forcing a large segment of the populace into low wage jobs menial jobs can make our employment numbers look good but masks the structural unemployment and various problems faced by Singaporeans - the difficulty in finding jobs that pays decent wages is as high if not higher than in other countries.

For many years, the PAP govt has tried to paint a rosy picture to Singaporeans on employment when the real situation on the ground has deteriorated badly especially among older Singaporeans.

66 comments:

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately there are a lot of ignoramus out there still regurgitating the same old pap diatribes dished out on govt-controlled press, and dispense them as hard-truths.


http://sghardtruth.wordpress.com/2011/10/14/is-there-any-truth-to-this-sweeping-statement-foreign-talents-and-foreign-workers-coming-to-singapore-to-take-away-jobs-meant-for-locals/

Musicwhiz said...

Statistics can always be manipulated, which is why one should always take a long, hard and critical look at it. With the Govt ever eager to placate rising anger among Singaporeans about foreigners taking away jobs and of older folk finding it harder to get by, expect more of such articles in our Govt-controlled ST to show up.

Anonymous said...

But one statistic that cannot be manipulated and which is the truth and nothing but the truth.

That is, PAP still has at least 60% support which can enable them to win 93% seats in elections, whatever the unemployment truth and the real statistics!

Now isn't such a cold, hard statistic of at least 60% support and 93% seats for PAP EVERY election for 46 years a wonderful(for PAP)truth?

And isn't this exist only as a dream for many other governments?

And with this truth, why worry about other truths, whether good or bad?

If you were the PAP, what more do you want?

Anonymous said...

Why u bother abt unemployed sinkaporeans? to be like many uncles and aunties i see lim kopi read chinese papers go chi kong in garden shop shop here shop shop there or jalan jalan is a luxury many countries people don't have.only people like the what hah ...CEO of capitaland the munkey will say die if not employ and we all know why he die if not employ dun we?

Wang said...

Lucky

If you are unemployed, you still need to get registered to receive the CDC benefits.

Further, the same stats, you cite, is also utilised using the same arguments in the OECD countries that not all have been counted.

Further, the rationale which you cite does not consider :-

a) those who wish to stay home to look after kids
b) those who stay home to look after aged parents
c) those who may also be in transit eg (a number of banks have entire departments resigned to go on garden leave)
d) those disabled or impaired
So overall, the govt of the day has done its job to ensure employment.
The quality of the employment generated and the distribution of fruits, will leave it separately

C.K.E. said...

But you see, since 77% are considered employed, that DOES NOT mean that 23% are unemployed! Some of them COULD be in early retirement, and you must admit, there are quite a number of housewives out in Singapore. This means the actual unemployment rate of citizens is probably quite low. Furthermore, about your point on Workfare, these people do not just have an income of $1300 a month! With Workfare, their income, for those with really low salaries, is about $2000 - and more for those with higher salaries, which, although is still relatively low, will allow these people to better meet their needs! Therefore, I don't see how your argument can hold, considering that you yourself manipulate the statistics in order to promote your anti-PAP standpoint.
Thank You.

Anonymous said...

"there are a lot of ignoramus out there still regurgitating the same old pap diatribes ...

One can try to educate an ignoramus but the blog - http://sghardtruth.wordpress.com is written by a lapdog in the vein of the Chua sisters in ST

Anonymous said...

Actually things are not as bad as what Lucky said lah.

Ask yourself. At least 60% mandate at every free and fair election and very peaceful for 46 years! How bad can things be?

OK lah, you may say North Korea also peaceful and people "happy" what. But then North Korea got general elections or not? Or even PRC got elections or not?

That's why so many PRC people like to come here because Singapore is so good. North Koreans cannot come because their country don't allow them to come. If not they will also come, even though their country is very peaceful.

Anonymous said...

Actually things are not as bad as what Lucky said lah.

Ask yourself. At least 60% mandate at every free and fair election and very peaceful for 46 years! How bad can things be?

OK lah, you may say North Korea also peaceful and people "happy" what. But then North Korea got general elections or not? Or even PRC got elections or not?

That's why so many PRC people like to come here because Singapore is so good. North Koreans cannot come because their country don't allow them to come. If not they will also come, even though their country is very peaceful.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

hey 19/10/11 12:13
going on and on about 60% mandate is good, but please do not forget it used to be 70 or 75% mandate! I hope you are not one of those grassroot types who are blamed by Lee HL for not telling the truth to him! Ha ha ha.

Lucky Tan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lucky Tan said...

CKE & Wang,

I'm not suggesting that our unemployment is 23%. Of course there are people on early retirement, taking voluntary breaks from work etc and this is the same in other countries.

My main point is that the employment picture is not as rosy as the 3% vs 14% elsewhere unemployment suggests if we dig deeper. Worse stll if we consider wage disparity and lack of minimum wage. That the PAP govt gives Workfare to help the 400,000 low wage workers is besides the point because the main point is the economy is not generating as many decent wage paying jobs ...we are not that much better than other developed countries if we look beyond the superficial statistics.

Anonymous said...

At this rate Singapore will need a Hitler to take over and turn things around. Hitler solved a much worse condition than S'pore today. He had a Germany comatosing from Great Depression and hyperinflation, and 40% unemployment and underemployment rate. Their money was trash --- 3,000,000 marks just to buy a loaf of bread. Cheaper to use the money to wipe ass than to buy toilet paper. By the start of WW2, Germany had 100% employment, the highest GDP on the European continent and the most industralised economy of Europe. Too bad Hitler was an egomaniac who led his ego to destroy his country.

Anonymous said...

I thought Hitler had help from extra-terrestrials and the mighty German military had alien technology! History Channel say one!

Anonymous said...

Aiyah, lucky just want to goreng goreng. Don't be shy, go geyland also can goreng goreng

Anonymous said...

The 400,000 on Workfare is actually a big slap on PAP's face and a visible prove of the lopsidedness of S'pore Inc. Workfare is basically Minimum Wage in all but name. It's an unspoken acknowledgement by PAP that S'pore Inc provides almost 40% of Sinkies with a pay that is below the living wage in S'pore.

Remember also that 60% of Workfare is non-cash. Most of you won't even bother to think or find out. FACT: a 50-yr old with $1.2K salary will get average of additional __$23.83__ per month of cash Workfare.

Wang said...

Lucky

In rebuttal to your clarifications, and likewise in Nordic countries or Canada, which you seem to like to quote, some counter blogs similiar to yours but opposite in ideology states that the true unemployment is double and those without oil like Norway are considering how to entice economic producing exiles to come back eg IKEA.
Further, in "good old USA", your favourite economist Krugman et al, are stating that actual unemployment rate is almost double, so even on comparison basis on your argument, I must say that govt of the day has done a good job in creating employment.

As stated, earlier, the quality of the employment created can of course be better and more evenly distributed thru better economic signals. Eg unemployment insurance, yes, a worthwhile consideration rather than having laissez faire policies only.

Regards

Anonymous said...

Good and interesting observations and analysis.

MSM has been publishing statistic analysis which often are favourable to the incumbent. There are many vague reporting.

We really need a critical mind such as Lucky's to see the other side of the coin. Thank you, Mr. Lucky.

Anonymous said...

If countries with strong unemployment benefits and recording system can have under-reported unemployment rate, then Singapore will have even much worse under-reported unemployment. In other countries, if you get another job that pays less then your unemployment benefits, you get the top-up difference and you're still tracked as underemployed. In Singapore, even if you're MBA and just grab a security guard job or drive taxi to survive, PAP will consider you a happy gainfully employed person.

Most Sinkies won't register themselves with CDC the moment they lose their jobs. They won't qualify for handouts so fast anyway. And CDC data capturing is very fast & loose, highly undependable. The only thing they carefully record is how much disbursements they make.

In other countries, when they are jobless, they will register themselves on the same day or the next day.

Anonymous said...

In the first place, in S'pore how do you track unemployment?!? There is no incentive for jobless in S'pore to make themselves known. Unlike in other countries with unemployment insurance.

And PAP doesn't look at CPF contributions to determine whether a person is now unemployed, becoz they know many people here work on adhoc basis, oddjob basis, freelance basis and self-employed basis, and these seldom make voluntary CPF contributions.

So bottomline is that I won't trust any unemployment stats coming from S'pore.

Winking Doll said...

@Wang at 19/10/11 09:16:

"those without oil like Norway are considering how to entice economic producing exiles to come back eg IKEA."

Just wanted to point out, maybe you are mixing up 2 different countries? Norway HAS oil, see wikipedia link below or google for Norway oil. IKEA is founded in Sweden, not Norway. They are neighbouring countries but are not the same.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Sea_oil

@Lucky:

To be fair to Singapore, using Vancouver, Canada as an example. I think someone in Vancouver working on a minimum wage adhoc job will be counted as employed (albeit only part-time employment). However the adhoc person may be assigned e.g. only 10 work-hours/week, then even with minimum pay it is not enough for living expenses. So the Canadian employment number may also be over-reported with respect to your comparison purpose.

To Anon at 19/10/11 14:27 who wrote: "In other countries, if you get another job that pays less then your unemployment benefits, you get the top-up difference and you're still tracked as underemployed."

For Canada, there are some restrictions and limits to the top-up. Your other job must be part-time and cannot exceed 25% or 40% of your weekly Employment Insurance benefit. Click the link below and go to the section "Can you work and still get EI regular benefits?"
http://www.cba.org/bc/public_media/employment/282.aspx

Anonymous said...

Come here for what? Be prostitutes ah?

Singapore Man Of Leisure said...

Short of a full census where you ask every Singaporean or every data point, all statistics are a mix of mathematical "assumption" and formulas.

Some may call it "manipulation"; but if the methodology used is explained, then it's a good enough "rough" indication - just as long we keep to the same methodology and not change rules all the time.

For me, why look at statistics when we can look at the gold fish directly?

I don't see similar Occupy Wallstreet protests in Singapore... Majority busy working?

Anonymous said...

Yeah,great idea.Goldfish got two big balls for eyes we can stare into

Anonymous said...

Even if underemployed, still better than not employed. It is better for an MBA to drive a taxi or be a security guard than not able to find any work at all. Just look at Greece, medical doctors cannot even find work. No regime can promise everyone a job that they like to do.

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Anonymous said...

True... employment is pretty tough nowadays. And can't save money while I am unemployed now cuz no welfare, so burning through cash paying for daily expenses...

Wang said...

Winking Doll

Noted that my statement could be better, my gist was that countries like Sweden without oil unlike Norway which has oil are now trying to win back companies and economic resourceful persons.

Anonymous said...

Singapore Man of Leisure: "For me, why look at statistics when we can look at the gold fish directly? I don't see similar Occupy Wallstreet protests in Singapore... Majority busy working?"




Similarly North korea has no protest, no report even of unemployment. It must be a utopia then! You should call yourself Singapore Man without brain LOLOL.

Anonymous said...

If anything less than S$1700 should be considered unemployment. I guess most of the countries in Asia will have a least 50% unemployment. How sad, everyone should overthrown their government.

Veritas said...

re
////
In the first place, in S'pore how do you track unemployment?
////

Our employment numbers can be track by monthly CPF contributions.

If you look at many MOM fine prints, they uses survey instead. So their intention is to deceives.

Anonymous said...

SWATI,you look hot. Lucky wants date you. What's your dog tag number?

Veritas, are you related to kumar?

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Anonymous said...

There is a lot of bloodshed on the streets right now among Singaporeans and the governmnent ought not to exarcebate the mass anger among Singaporeans even further.

3 serious government mispolicies is detrimental to the prosperity of Singapore.

The stop-at-two LKY child policy in the 70s, the overflooding of foreigners and the economic mismanagement of the introduction of the 2 giant casinos.

This is the beginning of the moral decay and downfall of Singapore.

It's going to get even worse unless their ineptness to neuter.

This government knows how to wipre its mouth after they talk.

Anonymous said...

You mean wipe itheir asses after they fart?

Anonymous said...

I've worked in a co. where 60% of the staff are daily rated part-timers. The stats won't show the under-employment.

Anonymous said...

Why are we paying $15K a month for MPs to talk cok and sing song in parliament, which they call debate, and have mediacok decides which portion of their speeches are worthy for public consumption hah? Do they think Singaporeans are so stupid that they need mediacok to sort out their speeches???

Ok, Singaporeans are stupid!

Anonymous said...

Just look at the large number of very qualified Singaporean taxi-drivers, property agents, insurance agents and security guards, mainly in their late 40s around us. I can also see a lot of Singaporeans in their 40s once laid off or having resigned from their jobs finding difficulties looking for another jobs. I think many were discouraged from looking for jobs after a long period of unemployment. So I think the unemployment figures released by the government does not reveal the true picture.

Anonymous said...

I dun think they understand what debate is and u know why?

they are still in school wearing school uniform representing their schools on tv

clap clap clap

Anonymous said...

Yeah,if they don't pee intheir pants...it is not a debate but a tok up Kok session

Anonymous said...

How to manipulate the figure for unemployment rate of Singaporean so that the figure appears low and nice?

This is how the manipulation is carried out.

When you are unemployed longer than 6 months, you are considered retired. Although you are unemployed, you are not part of the unemployment rate.

When you are sick for a prolong period and cannot work, you are not considered as part of unemployment rate.

When you become a full-time student because you have lost your job, you are not considered as part of unemployment rate.

When you become an insurance agent, property agent, or any commissioned type of job, even if you are not generating any income because of no sale, you are not considered as part of unemployment rate.

When you are desperate for job, you may accept job that pay less than 50% of your last paid full time job, you are not considered as part of unemployment rate.

When you work for a part-time job for less than 10 hours a week, you are not considered as part of unemployment rate.

Anonymous said...

The number of millionaires in Singapore is expected to more than double by 2016, reported The Straits Times.

The current number of millionaires here are 183,000. It is expected to hit 408,000 in five years.

According to Credit Suisse's latest global wealth report, Singaporeans are the second richest in the Asia Pacfic region and the fifth richest in the world, with an average wealth of US$285,000 (S$359,600).

Anonymous said...

Do you guys reemembered when Mah set his base years lower to show that hdb flat prices had not increased that much?

The statistics we're churning out smells of administrative expediencies.

Anonymous said...

But in GE 2011, 57% of voters still think Mah is OK.

But he was not re-appointed as minister by PM Lee. So not OK?

So is it OK, not OK, or what?

Anonymous said...

They don't debate, they masturbate.

Wang said...

Lucky

By the way, this is your Canadian utopia comments from Canadians themselves.

"1% of top Canadian earners took in 32% of the cash earned last year. Food banks are running dry. Median family income has not grown since the mid 70s - yet top earning CEOs in Canada earn 450% more than the employees who generate most wealth. Canadian native reservations, by and large, have no safe drinking water. Tarsands companies received $6B in subsidies from the Canadian government; social programs are being cut nationwide. In the last three months of 2010 alone, Canadian corporate operating profits rose to $65.5B, yet corporate tax rates are the lowest in Canadian history."

Regards

Anonymous said...

Why? Structurally you are defeated!

Kojakbt said...

@Wang,

>> "1% of top Canadian earners took in 32% of the cash earned last year. Food banks are running dry. Median family income has not grown since the mid 70s - yet top earning CEOs in Canada earn 450% more than the employees who generate most wealth..."

Still, according to the Gini index by UN, Canada's is 32.6 while that of Singapore is 42.5, the highest among the 1st world countries'. Our Gini index is at least 30% higher than that of Canada. That means, the rich-poor divide is still a lot lower in Canada than in Singapore.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_income_equality

Kojakbt said...

@Wang,

Also, despite of our so called "full employment", our real total wages annualized over 3 years from 2007 to 2010 declined by 0.3% p.a.

I can only imagine that the real median wages would decline even more...

So, do you still think our govt of the day has done a good job for Singaporeans as far as employment is concerned?

http://www.mom.gov.sg/newsroom/Pages/PressReleasesDetail.aspx?listid=371

Wang said...

Kojakbt

Please read my comments.
Let me highlight following:-

"So overall, the govt of the day has done its job to ensure employment."

"The quality of the employment generated and the distribution of fruits, will leave it separately".

So hence my reply to Lucky on employment.
It is separate from the 2nd portion of comments which refers to the GINI coefficient issue.

Hope this clarifies, further, would hope, this sticks to the topic.

Regards

Kojakbt said...

@Wang,

My point is we should adopt a more "holistic" approach in judging the actions of our Govt :)

Anonymous said...

whatever comments made by the pro-pap to counter Mr Lucky are meant to decieve; these are deliberate and desperate attempts by the pap regime to propagate lies.

SimplyTerror said...

To Anonymous, the commentator right before me, stop your person attacks on people who agree with the PAP. Just because you disagree with them doesn't mean they are lying.
I think Lucky Tan's intepretation is somewhat off with regards to employment rate (or participation rate as my textbook calls it). As several other commentators noted, just because someone is not employed doesn't mean they want to be employed.
But I think Lucky is somewhat right in the sense that some of the 23% might have simply given up looking for employment. But I think the onus is on Lucky to show that this is the case, rather than insinuating that all this is somehow a PAP conspiracy to obscure facts :)

martinst said...

i think singapore goverment never protect singaporean. i think changed goverment debate again tomorrow.we must speak more to goverments on jobs issued and do not waste money on other things. what that birth rated was low in yr:( up to singapore goverment that next elect soon . i think that opp side over taken pap. up to goverment future :) yeap

martinst said...

i think singapore goverment never protect singaporean. i think changed goverment debate again tomorrow.we must speak more to goverments on jobs issued and do not waste money on other things. what that birth rated was low in yr:( up to singapore goverment that next elect soon . i think that opp side over taken pap. up to goverment future :) yeap

martinst said...

i think singapore goverment never protect singaporean. i think changed goverment debate again tomorrow.we must speak more to goverments on jobs issued and do not waste money on other things. what that birth rated was low in yr:( up to singapore goverment that next elect soon . i think that opp side over taken pap. up to goverment future :) yeap

MCX Crude Oil Updates said...

Statistics can always be manipulated, which is why one should always take a long, hard and critical look at it. With the Govt ever eager to placate rising anger among Singaporeans about foreigners taking away jobs and of older folk finding it harder to get by, expect more of such articles in our Govt-controlled ST to show up.

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Income Protection said...

The accurate unemployment rate should be presented at all times.

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