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     Employment situation in 1st quarter 2007

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Administrative records. The self-employed component is estimated from the Labour Force Survey.


The employment data comprises all persons in employment i.e. employees and the self-employed. However, it excludes males who are serving their 2-year full-time national service liability in the Singapore Armed Forces, Police and Civil Defence Forces.

Data on the number of local (also known as resident) employees are compiled from the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board's administrative records of active contributors defined as local employees who have at least one CPF contribution paid for him/her. A local (also known as resident) employee is any Singapore citizen or Permanent Resident who is employed by an employer under a contract of service or other agreement entered into in Singapore. Every local employee and his/her employer are required to make monthly contributions to the CPF which is a compulsory savings scheme to provide workers financial security in old age and helps meet the needs of healthcare, home-ownership, family protection, and asset enhancement.

Data on foreigners working in Singapore are compiled from administrative records of foreigners on valid work passes issued by the Ministry of Manpower. Foreigners can work in Singapore only if they have valid work passes issued by the Ministry of Manpower, upon application by their employers.

The number of self-employed residents is estimated from the Labour Force Survey. The self-employed comprises persons aged 15 years and over who are own account workers, employers or contributing family workers.


Concepts and Definitions

Employment change refers to the difference in the employment level at the end of the reference period compared with the end of the preceding period.

Uses and Limitations

This data series allows users to identify individual industries where employment is growing or stagnating. An analysis of the data over time also helps in understanding the impact of economic cyclical and structural changes on the demand for workers. Detailed data are published in the quarterly Labour Market Report.

The change in employment over time is the net result of increases and decreases in employment i.e. net of inflows and outflows of workers. Users should not mistake an increase in employment as gross job creation.




Labour Force Survey


The survey covers private households on the main island of Singapore. It excludes workers living in construction worksites, dormitories and workers' quarters at the workplace and persons commuting from abroad to work in Singapore. To achieve full coverage of the labour force in Singapore, data on residents (also known as locals, i.e. Singapore citizens and permanent residents) from the survey are combined with foreign workforce data compiled from work passes issued by the Ministry of Manpower.

Concepts and Definitions

Unemployed Persons refer to persons aged 15 years and over who were without work during the survey reference period but were available for work and were actively looking for a job. They include persons who were not working but were taking steps to start their own business or taking up a new job after the reference period.

Unemployment Rate is defined as the percentage of unemployed persons to the total number of economically active persons (i.e. employed and unemployed persons) aged 15 years and over.

Uses and Limitations

The unemployment rate is probably the best-known measure of the labour market. It measures unutilised labour supply and is useful in the study of the economic cycle as it is closely related to the fluctuations in the business cycle.

Unemployment can have frictional, cyclical and structural elements. As it takes time for job seekers and employers to find a match, there is always a certain level of frictional unemployment due to people changing jobs and from new entrants looking for work for the first time. Unemployment can also be structural e.g. arising from a mismatch between the job seekers and the job openings available. With structural unemployment, even if job vacancies and job seekers coexist in the labour market, they may not be matched over a long period of time. Finally, unemployment can be cyclical. This occurs when there is a general decline in demand for manpower as aggregate demand for goods and services fall in the event of a cyclical downturn. Unlike structural and frictional unemployment where the problem is in matching job openings with job seekers, cyclical unemployment occurs when there are not enough jobs to go around.

Unemployment can vary due to changes in demand or supply of manpower. It can decline if more people succeed in securing employment or when the unemployed persons stop to look for a job and leave the labour force either temporarily (e.g. to take up training) or permanently (e.g. to retire). Conversely, unemployment may rise due to increase in labour supply from new entrants or re-entrants to the labour market. It will also rise if more people quit their jobs to look for alternative employment or if there is an increase in layoffs.




Labour Market Survey


The survey covers private sector establishments (each with at least 25 employees) and the public sector.

Concepts and Definitions

Retrenchment refers to the termination of employment of a permanent employee due to redundancy. In the public sector, it includes those who left service under the Special Resignation Scheme that allows redundant non-deployable Civil Service or Statutory Board employees to leave their organisations with compensation.

Uses and Limitations

Data on retrenchment are useful in the analysis of re-structuring or ailing industries. Detailed data are published in the quarterly Labour Market Report.

The number of persons retrenched (flow) should not be confused with persons unemployed (stock). Not all persons retrenched will be unemployed as some will be re-employed or decide to leave the workforce. Similarly, the pool of unemployed persons comes not only from retrenchments, but also from new entrants to the labour force such as school leavers and the economically inactive who decide to re-join the workforce.

Source: Press Release 30 Apr 2007