Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Spin detected? Employment growth in first half of 2005 highest in 4.5 years or slight increase in unemployment rate?

I was reading CNA, when I spotted an article which says "Employment growth in first half of 2005 highest in 4.5 years."

Employment growth in first half of 2005 highest in 4.5 years
By Hasnita A Majid, Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE : Good news for the labour market.

Driven by sustained economic growth, employment creation picked up momentum and job vacancies continued to rise amid a positive business outlook for the second half of this year.

The Manpower Ministry said overall employment in the first half of the year grew by 49,500, double the gains of 24,600 over the same period in 2004.

This employment creation was the highest in four and a half years.

According to its Labour Market Report for the second quarter, overall employment grew strongly by 31,700, up from 17,800 in the previous quarter, and triple that for the same period last year.

The services sector registered strong employment gains of 18,400, followed by manufacturing with 9,300.

Construction employment also rose by 3,400, reaffirming the turnaround observed in the first quarter of 2005.

Unemployment rates went down. The overall unemployment rate in June was 3.4% compared to 3.6% for the same period last year.

The report added that the improvement in unemployment from a year ago was mainly felt by the better educated and the younger job seekers.

However, difficulties faced by the less educated and mature job seekers still remain.

This group accounted for one in four of the 24,900 local job seekers in June 2005.

- CNA /ls

The same was echoed in ST's article with the same headline, although there are more details on the unemployment rate of people above 40.

Job creation rate highest in 4 1/2 years

49,500 jobs added in first half of year, but unemployment among older workers is up
By Sue-Ann Chia

BOOSTED by sustained economic expansion, the job market is now growing at a faster pace.

The number of jobs created hit a 4 1/2-year high in the first half of this year, with 49,500 jobs added.

That's double the gains of 24,600 reported in the same period last year.

And government surveys show the pace will continue to accelerate in the second half of this year, led by the services sector.

This was the picture painted in the labour market report of the second quarter, which fleshed out earlier employment figures.

The Manpower Ministry report yesterday showed several bright spots. The jobless rate between April and June stood at 3.4 per cent, which analysts say is a good showing. They expect it to improve - but not as fast - in the second half of the year.

OCBC economist Suan Teck Kin sees the unemployment rate hovering at 3.2 per cent till the second half of next year, even as more jobs are created. The reason is the continuing retrenchment in the manufacturing sector.

Hardest hit were the older and less educated workers, who form the bulk of those laid off. Their unemployment rate has also worsened.

The jobless rate of those aged 40 and older and with below secondary education rose from 5.9 per cent to 6.8 per cent in the 12-month period ending this June.

This group accounted for 24,900, or one in four, of the jobless pool in June.

Said labour MP Halimah Yacob: 'We strongly urge employers not to discriminate against mature workers, but to provide them with equal employment opportunities.' But older workers too must adapt to new job requirements and salary, she added.

Meanwhile, 31,700 jobs were added between April and June, much higher than the 17,800 in the previous quarter. The boost comes from both the services and manufacturing sectors, which had gains of 18,400 and 9,300, respectively.

Employment in the construction sector also rose by 3,400, reaffirming the turnaround seen in the first quarter of this year.

With more jobs, the ratio of vacancies to jobseekers also rose. There are now 46 openings for every 100 jobseekers, the highest in almost four years. Close to six in 10 of the 19,200 vacancies come from the services sector.

Retrenchments were also down: 2,116 people were laid off, which was 2.4 per cent less than the first quarter.

One blip in the report, however, is the re-employment rates of those retrenched in the past six months. It dipped to 54 per cent in June, a significant drop from 68 per cent in March and 64 per cent in June last year.

Analysts say this group of about 2,000 could be less active in their job search or jobs available did not suit them.

Still, the overall trend shows improving job prospects as job creation picks up pace. But it is the better educated and younger jobseekers, such as fresh graduates and those younger than 30, who are finding it easier to get a job.

This could be due to their open attitudes towards temporary and contract jobs, said Ms Annie Yap, managing director of recruitment agency GMP Group.

Companies also seemed more keen to hire fresh entrants. Communications graduate Vanessa Poon, 23, got a job in public relations even before her results were out. 'It was a surprise. I was ready to wait four months for a job.'

All these seemed very good, it was what the government had been saying all along: Structural unemployment. This can be solved so long people upgrade their skills and jobs are redesigned for them, or so we are led to believe.

However something just doesn't feel right, so I went to Singstats to search for more information and I found this. Much of the press statement is the same as what is in the press, however I found something else that isn't.

3. Based on preliminary estimates from the General Household Survey conducted by the Department of Statistics, the seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rate was 3.4% in June 2005. Among the resident (refers to S'poreans and PRs) labour force, the unemployment rate was 4.5%. These rates are lower than a revised 3.6% (overall) and 4.7% (resident) in the same period a year ago, but are marginally higher than the 3.3% (overall) and 4.4% (resident) in March 2005. An estimated 97,200 residents were unemployed in June 2005. The seasonally adjusted figure was 78,900.

Now then I realise that the 3.4% unemployment is the overall unemployment, not unemployment for Singapore's residents. In actual fact, unemployment rate for Singaporeans and PRs (4.5%) are much higher than what we were led to believe.

It is noteworthy that despite "overall employment grew strongly by 31,700, up from 17,800 in the previous quarter" and "employment creation was the fastest in four and a half years", both overall and resident seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for both residents and overall went UP instead of going down when compare to March 2005!

What is the reason for that? Who got the jobs that were created? Who are the ones benefiting from the economic growth? What can be done about the high unemployment rate among Singapore residents? Our government must answers these hard questions and spinning isn't an answer.


At 12:49 AM, September 14, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In addition, (since you put yourself as one who is studying useless subjects), the number of jobs created doesn't tell you what sort of jobs were created.

So while x number of jobs created is a happy figure, the actual increase in the number of jobs available to arts grads, will actually be much lower.

At 4:48 PM, September 17, 2005, Blogger at82 said...

Actually have break down leh...

"The boost comes from both the services and manufacturing sectors, which had gains of 18,400 and 9,300, respectively.

Employment in the construction sector also rose by 3,400, reaffirming the turnaround seen in the first quarter of this year."

So there got break down lah... However they didn't break down what % of jobs go foreigners.

I am not against FTs and I think they are very important to S'pore economy. However I also think govt needs to reconsider the numbers they let in or raise the foreign worker levies since unemployment rate among S'porean is so high.

At 11:12 PM, September 21, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

im not against FTs... so long as it is true, that they are taking jobs that we cannot find locals for.

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