Slower income growth, more residents unemployed in 2016: MOM

Slower income growth, more residents unemployed in 2016: MOM

SINGAPORE - Singaporean workers are feeling the pinch from the weak economic environment, with slower income growth and higher unemployment in 2016, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Wednesday (Nov 30).

According to the advance release of MOM's Labour Force in Singapore report, the median monthly income of full-time employed residents rose by 2.7 per cent to $4,056 in the year to June 2016, including employer contributions to the Central Provident Fund.

Incomes grew 3.2 per cent in real terms after adjusting for inflation, but this is lower than the 5.3 per cent growth enjoyed last year.

In the last five years, median incomes in Singapore have experienced sustained growth of 3.1 per cent per year in real terms. This was faster than the income growth enjoyed by those in the bottom 20 per cent income gap, who saw their wages rise by just 2.6 per cent every year.

Resident unemployment up

With tougher economic conditions resulting in fewer job openings, the resident unemployment rate rose to 3 per cent in June 2016, with both male and female unemployment rates going up.

MOM said that this represents the first time resident unemployment has gone above 2.9 per cent in the past five years.

PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians) remained less prone to unemployment than non-PMETs, but the gap has narrowed in recent years. In June this year, the unemployment rate for PMETs was at 3.1 per cent, while 4.2 per cent of non-PMETs were out of work.

More females finding work

Meanwhile, the resident labour force participation rate (LFPR) dipped slightly from 68.3 per cent in 2015 to 68 per cent this year. But on the whole, the labour force participation rate has been on an upwards trajectory due to the rise in the participation rate among females.

MOM observed that the share of females in the labour force, defined as those above 15 who are either employed or actively looking for work, has risen from 43 per cent in 2006 to 46 per cent in 2016.

The increase in the number of females at work also helped offset the decline in the employment rate of males. This enabled the employment rate for residents aged between 25 and 64 in 2016 (80.3 per cent) to remain at a similar level to that in 2015 (80.5%).

However, the ministry highlighted that the employment rate for prime working-age men (males between 25 and 54) has dropped sharply to its lowest level since 2009,  falling from 92.9 per cent in 2015 to 91.9 per cent this year. This is the lowest since 2009.

An aging but better-educated workforce

MOM pointed out that Singapore's workforce is aging, with the median age of residents in the labour force rising to 43 in 2016 from 40 in 2006.

The share of those aged 60 and over in the resident labour force has more than doubled in the past decade, moving from 5.5 per cent in 2006 to 13 per cent this year.

More positively, slightly more than half of (53%) of the labour force is now made up of residents who are tertiary-educated, a significant increase from 39 per cent in 2006.

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seanyap@sph.com.sg

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