According to the Straits Times news report “Singapore’s employment ‘least imperfect’, but economic transition necessary: Lim Swee Say” (Aug 4) – “Singapore’s employment situation may be among “the least imperfect in the world”.

Employment rate is 79.7 or 67.0%?

As to “Singapore’s employment rate of 79.7 per cent – the second highest in the world after Japan – and its low unemployment rate of 2 per cent” – according to the latest data from the Department of Statistics’ web site – the Labour Force Participation Rate (as at June 2014) was 67.0 per cent.

So, how did we get the “employment rate of 79.7 per cent”?

Singaporeans’ unemployment rate much higher

Although the overall unemployment rate of all workers is 2 per cent – the unemployment rate of Singaporeans, PRs and foreigners is 2.9, 2.2 (estimated) and 0.7 per cent (estimated), respectively.

Why we are not ”the least imperfect employment in the world”?

How can we be among “the least imperfect employment in the world”, when

… there has been hardly any real increase in the median basic, gross and total wage (excluding employer CPF contribution) for the last 16 years or so

… we have the longest work hours week in the world

… we have so many low-wage workers – 127,000 (full-time) workers whose basic pay is below $1,100 and according to the Labour Force in Singapore report, 2014 – there were 415,800 residents earning less than $1,500

Is the figure even more dismal for Singaporeans, excluding permanent residents (PRs), since PRs generally earn about 20 plus per cent more than Singaporeans?

… despite having no unemployment benefits or practically any meaningful welfare – we have 84,700 unemployed residents as of June plus the long-term unemployed plus the economically inactive.  If we factor in the under-employed and part-time for economic reasons – there may be much more Singaporeans who can’t get a job or a decent paying job

… it has been estimated that about 30 per cent of households’ expenses exceed their incomes – which may mean that about a million people may be struggling to make ends meet

Singapore’s employment ‘most imperfect’ in the world?

Perhaps arguably, our employment situation may be the “most imperfect”, rather than the “least imperfect” in the world!

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