Skip to main content

Written Answer by Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Acting Minister for Manpower, to Parliamentary Question on Unemployment in Singapore’s Resident Population

Notice Paper No. 353 of 2013 For The Sitting On 21 Oct 2013
Question No. 1474 and 1478 For Written Answer

MP: Ms Jessica Tan Soon Neo

To ask the Acting Minister for Manpower in light of the economic restructuring (a) what jobs have been affected; and (b) what impact has it had on PME jobs in terms of wages and job opportunities given that PMEs form a large part of our citizen workforce.

To ask the Acting Minister for Manpower whether the Ministry sees a trend of rising unemployment amongst our resident population continuing for the rest of the year, given that it has risen for the second consecutive quarter in 2013.


  1. Our economic restructuring efforts are aimed at achieving economic growth driven by sustained productivity improvements rather than manpower growth. This will help our economy remain vibrant and competitive, so that Singaporeans continue to have good job opportunities. In the short-term, however, as the economy restructures, some jobs will be lost as firms improve their business models and processes. At the same time, new and better jobs will be created. This is part and parcel of an economy which is restructuring, with older less competitive firms giving way to newer more competitive ones. We must welcome this. What is important is that Singaporeans who lose their jobs are able to find new ones within a short period of time. This is the case today.
  2. Our jobs creation has remained high in the midst of the economic restructuring. Between June 2010 and June 2013, our total employment3 grew by 4% per annum, higher than the rate of 3.8% per annum in the last decade between June 2000 and June 2010.
  3. Jobs have been increasing across Services, Manufacturing, and Construction. The Services sector and Construction sector had strong employment growth of 4.3% and 6.6% per annum, respectively, between June 2010 and June 2013, while Manufacturing jobs grew more slowly at 0.9% per annum in the same period4.
  4. As we restructure, we expect some increase in redundancies as workers move across jobs and industries. So far, the increase has been small. The incidence of workers made redundant in 2012 was only slightly higher at 5.8 for every 1,000 workers, compared to 5.7 for every 1,000 workers in 2010 when our economy rebounded strongly from the global financial crisis.
  5. PME wages have grown. From 2010 to 2012, the median gross monthly income from work5 of resident PMEs increased by 3.1% per annum in real terms, higher than the 2.7% per annum for all resident workers.
  6. While there have been more higher-skilled jobs available, we have also seen a growing supply of university graduates, who make up the bulk of PMEs. As a result, there are fewer vacancies for degree holder job seekers in 2012 compared to 2010. In September 2012, there were 92 degree level job openings for every 100 job seekers, compared to 112 for every 100 in 2010.
  7. As our economic restructuring gathers pace, the unemployment rate could increase slightly from the very low rates currently, for both PMEs and non-PMEs. Nonetheless, we expect the unemployment rate to remain low given our tight labour market. MOM will continue to help workers who are displaced have access to help in acquiring new skills and finding suitable jobs through WDA’s Caliberlink or Career Centres at the Community Development Councils.

3 Excluding foreign domestic workers
4 Excluding foreign domestic workers
5 Including employer CPF