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ILO finds discouraged workers in Singapore

More than four million people around the world stopped looking for jobs last year, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Discouraged workers: International Labour Organization report

The proportion of discouraged workers – who would rather be working but couldn’t find jobs – was particularly high in Singapore, as this chart shows.  It’s taken from the ILO’s newly released World of Work 2010 report, a labour market study from 2009 till the first quarter of 2010. The  chart is taken from the full report, which can be found here on the ILO website.

While the number of unemployed people in Singapore is small, those out of work are having a harder time finding new jobs than in 2007 and 2008, according to data from the Ministry of Manpower. You can see the figures at the end of this post.

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Singapore economy 2009: GDP and jobs

Construction was the only industry to post double-digit growth –16 per cent — when the Singapore economy shrank 2 per cent in the 2009 recession.

Business services also grew by 3.3 per cent. The only other (faintly) bright spot was information and communications, which grew an infinitesimal 0.8 per cent. Financial services didn't do too badly in the downturn, shrinking only 1.4 per cent.

The big dips came in two key sectors: manufacturing, which accounts for the biggest share of the gross domestic product, and the wholesale and retail trade, which contributes the second biggest share. Wholesale and retail shrank by 9.1 per cent and manufacturing by 4.1 per cent.

All the figures here are from the Economic Survey of 2009 released by the Ministry of Trade and Industry today.

SingaporeGDP_and_jobs2009

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The Economic Survey of 2009, released today by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, notes how the government fought the recession.

The centrepiece of Budget 2009 was the 20.5 billion Singapore dollar (SGD20.5 billion) Resilience Package, it says.

The stimulus worked. Singapore is out of the recession with overall unemployment down to 2.1 per cent.

Employed_residents_by_indus

Among Singapore citizens and permanent residents, the  unemployment rate fell to 3 per cent from 5 per cent with an estimated 60,100 residents out of work in December 2009.

The SGD20.5 billion (about $14.5 billion) Resilience Package was not only effective but cost-effective. It was a shoestring operation compared with the business activities of the two Singapore sovereign wealth funds.

The survey mentions the SGD5.1 billion the government allocated to help preserve jobs for Singaporeans.

That was only a fraction of the 11 billion Swiss francs (about SGD14.2 billion) the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) invested in the Swiss bank, UBS.

GIC's paper losses on UBS alone could total about 7.85 billion Swiss francs — more than the entire outlay to protect jobs. GIC's UBS shares are now worth only about 3.15 billion Swiss francs, according to the Straits Times.

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I don’t accept 2nd place for United States of America

Here's the full text of US President Barack Obama's State of the Union address. In this video clip, Obama says:

I realize that for every success story, there are other stories, of men and women who wake up with the anguish of not knowing where their next paycheck will come from; who send out resumes week after week and hear nothing in response. That is why jobs must be our number one focus in 2010, and that is why I am calling for a new jobs bill tonight.

I'm proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat. I am also proposing a new small business tax credit – one that will go to over one million small businesses who hire new workers or raise wages. While we're at it, let's also eliminate all capital gains taxes on small business investment; and provide a tax incentive for all businesses, large and small, to invest in new plants and equipment.

Next, we can put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow. From the first railroads to the interstate highway system, our nation has always been built to compete. There's no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains, or the new factories that manufacture clean energy products.

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Consider yourself better off if you earn more than 2,600 Singapore dollars ($1,880) a month. For half the 1.99 million working Singaporeans and permanent residents earn less than that. And the majority of workers who found new jobs this year were hired on contracts for less than three months.

Let me quote from the Ministry of Manpower's Singapore Workforce, 2009 report released today:

Amid the global recession, the proportion of residents aged 25 to 64 in employment fell for the first time in six years to 75.8% in June 2009 from the peak of 77.0% a year ago. This mainly reflected the decline in employment rate for residents in the prime-working age group of 25 to 54 from 81.4% to 80.1%…

There were 5.9% or 116,300 persons (non-seasonally adjusted) in the resident labour force who were unemployed in June 2009, significantly higher than 4.0% or 76,200 a year ago. The rise was felt across all occupations and industries. The unemployment rate increased over the year from 4.3% to 7.1% for production & related workers; sharper than the increase from 5.8% to 7.6% for clerical, sales & service workers; and 2.5% to 3.9% for professionals, managers, executives & technicians.

The report says:

Even though it had decreased, the employment rate for prime-working age men in Singapore remained higher than in many developed and Asian economies…

The comparison with developed economies is not quite appropriate. For the unemployed in welfare states can seek social security. So they may register themselves as unemployed. That's not the case in Singapore.

Still, the government has done good work, saving as many jobs as possible by helping companies pay their workers through the jobs credit programme. More people might have lost their jobs if the government had not helped companies make payroll.

Most new jobs for less than three months

But that does not alter the fact that the labour market has become more uncertain.

Most of the new jobs created are not only temporary — but for less than three months. It's all there in the ministry report:

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