‘Hidden’ unemployment problem in Singapore

Referring to the recently released Labour Market Report (March 2014) which shows that Singapore continues to enjoy a very low unemployment rate of 1.9% for the year 2013, this percentage includes Singapore residents whose unemployment rate is 2.8%.

For the month of December 2013, the Report gives breakdowns of percentages of unemployed Singapore residents in terms of (1) education, and (2) age, as shown in Figs. 1 and 2, respectively. Both figures show that the overall unemployment rate for December 2013 is close to the annual average rate of 2.8%. Further, both figures show that the unemployment rates are low for all groups, suggesting that unemployment is not a serious problem in Singapore. Indeed, the only groups appearing to have small unemployment problem are those with “Post-secondary” education and “Below 30” years of age.

For the month of December 2013, the Report also gives breakdowns of the number of unemployed Singapore residents in terms of (1) education, and (2) age, as shown in Figs. 3 and 4, respectively. These figures, however, show that the groups that have the largest number of unemployed are those with “Degree” education and “40 & Over” years of age. Further, if the two groups “Diploma & Professional Qualification” and “Degree” are combined forming the commonly referred group as the PMETs, the “hidden” unemployment problem then becomes apparent. For these PMETs, there are 22,400 out of a total 50,400 unemployed. They account for almost 50% of the unemployed.

If this number of unemployed is translated to number of families affected by unemployment, the number of residents who are affected by unemployment becomes much bigger. So, there is a serious unemployment problem in Singapore. The group which is most affected is in fact not the “young” with post-secondary education, but the “old” PMETs. Indeed, while these PMETs are out of work, isn’t it ironic to find that for the same month of December 2013, there were 175,100 employment pass holders working in Singapore?

Dr Tommy Wong

Tommy is the author of the book series “Wisdom on How to Live Life” and other philosophical, self-help books including “Wisdom for Living After Being Fired”.

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