Singapore seems to have more jobs than workers. Unemployment fell to a 14-year low, dropping to just 2 per cent, in 2011 and a tight labour market pushed up wages and recruitment of foreign workers.Continue Reading
Working couples in Singapore, you have been warned.
The median income of households with two working members is likely to increase a little less in the next 10 years than it did in the past decade, based on what the minister said.
The government wants individual median income to go up from S$2,400 now to S$3,100 in 2010, Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said yesterday.
That's less than a one-third increase — and less than the growth in the median household income in the last decade.
Median household income from work rose by a third from S$3,638 in 2000 to S$4,850 in 2009, according to Key Household Income Trends 2009, a paper issued by the Singapore Department of Statistics. Based on that report, I made this chart to write about the growing gap between average income and median income in Singapore.
Foreign workers not only helped the Singapore economy to grow but also helped raise the median income of Singaporeans, Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in his Budget speech yesterday.
That contradicts a Wall Street Journal report last month, which I quoted in an earlier post.
The minister and the Journal both agree the foreign workers helped the economy to grow.
But their presence was a damper on productivity and blue-collar wages, according to the Journal.
Foreign workers — over a million strong — make up about a third of the Singapore workforce.
The median monthly income of people working full-time rose 0.5% from 2,590 Singapore dollars in June 2008 to 2,600 Singapore dollars in June 2009, after soaring 11% in 2008 and 7.7% in 2007, the Ministry of Manpower reported on November 30, 2009.
But many Singaporeans are unhappy about the influx of foreign workers.
The minister said there was a need to "moderate the growth of the foreign workforce", using a "price mechanism", like for any other product in the market.
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: