National Day: Labour data does not gel with the rhetoric?


The labour statistics do not seem to gel well with the rhetoric?

I refer to the article “Wages, jobs, productivity up but more work lies ahead: PM” (Sunday Times, Aug 13).

It states that “The economy is expected to grow by around 2.5 per cent this year – higher than last year’s 2 per cent – and this has lifted wages, and created more jobs for Singaporeans.

Productivity is also rising”.

In this connection, Singapore’s productivity “achieved 1 per cent growth in 2016” and “2016 was the first time in several years that a positive productivity figure had been achieved”.

Productivity (Changes In Value Added Per Worker At 2010 Market Prices) was -0.1, 0.9, -0.2 and -0.2 in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, respectively.

So, the average productivity growth per year for the last five years from 2012 to 2016 was only about 0.3 (-0.1 + 0.9 – 0.2 – 0.2 + 1 divided by 5).

For wages, according to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) – the Median real basic wage change From Work (Including Employer CPF Contributions) of Full-Time Employed Residents was an Annualised Change (% p.a.) of 1.6% from 2006 to 2016.

However, it may be interesting to note that the above statistics are for full-time employed residents (Including Employer CPF Contributions). What are the the statistics for all Singaporean workers (full-time and part-time, excluding permanent residents (PRs) and excluding Employer CPF Contributions)?

(Note: “From 2009 onwards, the threshold between full-time and part-time was revised from 30 hours to 35 hours”)

If the unemployment data can be broken down into Singaporeans and PRs – why can’t the wages and jobs data be broken down too?

According to MOM – employment change in the first half of this year was -14,600.

There is no breakdown as to how many of these jobs lost were Singaporeans?

2015-16: Employment growth – 11,400 locals, 37,300 foreigners?

In the two years from January 2015 to December 2016 – employment growth was 11,400 for locals and 37,300 for foreigners.

So, how many of the 11,400 jobs growth to locals went to Singaporeans, against the 61,005 new PRs granted, and 42,917 new citizens granted in the same two-year period?

Leong Sze Hian


About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.