4. Preliminary estimates in MOM’s Labour Market Advance Release showed that resident employment level rebounded in 3Q 2020 to near pre-COVID levels. However, when we compared employment rates in June 2020 (at the height of the Circuit Breaker) with June 2019, the impact varied across age groups.
5. Despite the pandemic’s impact on the economy, employment rate remained high (80.3%) for residents aged 25 to 64, the bulk of whom are in their prime working age2, and was close to the average in the last five years (80.5%). Among females, the employment rate largely held up while that for males moderated by 0.9%-point3.
6. Employment rate for residents aged 65 & over continued its sustained improvement, rising by 0.9%-point from 27.6% in June 2019 to 28.5% in June 2020, a result of ongoing efforts to raise the employability of senior workers. For example, the Special Employment Credit has been made available since 2011, along with other measures to support senior employment.
7. Employment rate among youths aged 15-24 continued its downward trend4. Over the years, more youths in this age group have remained in education and would have sought employment on part-time basis, often in hospitality-related sectors that were harder hit by the pandemic. The two effects combined caused the employment rate decline of 3%-point for this age group to be sharpest among all age groups.
Non-PMETs experienced larger increase in unemployment rate than PMETs
8. As industries more severely impacted by COVID-19 have a higher concentration of non-PMETs, the resident unemployment rate5 increased by a larger magnitude for non-PMETs (+1.7%-point from June 2019 to June 2020) than PMETs6 (+0.6%-point). The unemployment rates for both groups remained below previous recessionary peaks.
9. The increase in long-term unemployment rates was considerably smaller for both groups (non-PMETs: +0.1%-point, PMETs: +0.2%-point). Nevertheless, we are monitoring the long-term unemployment rates closely.
10. The National Jobs Council has been working closely with the tripartite partners to create jobs, traineeships, attachments and training opportunities under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package. As of end-September, around 45,000 jobseekers have been placed, with about half of the job placements in non-PMET roles. The Government has also set aside $1 billion for the Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) to enable firms that continue to do well to bring forward their hiring plans and create more good jobs for locals.
11. To better help jobseekers access these opportunities, Workforce Singapore (WSG) has set up the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Centres in all HDB towns and deploys the mobile Careers Connect On-the-Go (CCOTG) to bring career coaching services closer to jobseekers.
Median income dipped
12. Real median income7 growth was -0.3%P, a reversal from the 2.2% growth in 2019. Despite the moderation in 2020, real median income growth over the recent five years (2015 to 2020: 2.7% p.a.P) remained close to that over the preceding five years (2010 to 2015: 3.1% p.a.).
Steeper decline in income at the 20th percentile, but help from government to supplement incomes mitigated impact
13. Industries more adversely affected by COVID-19 had a higher concentration of lower-income earners, including the self-employed whose earnings were also reduced.As a result, real income of full-timers at the 20th percentile fell in June 2020 (-4.5%P).
14. The income data does not take into account governmental payouts such as the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) that supplement the income of lower-income earners. Other temporary, one-off payments such as the Workfare Special Payment (WSP) for lower-income earners, the COVID-19 Support Grant (CSG) for employees and the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS) for the self-employed would also help to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 (please refer to Annex A for details). After adding WIS and WSP payouts, the 20th percentile income level in 2020 is similar to the level in 2019.8
15. Over a five-year period from 2015 to 2020, real income growth at the 20th percentile (2.9% p.a.P) remained slightly higher than at the median (2.7% p.a.P).
Larger increase in time-related under-employment rate among non-PMETs, whose jobs were less suitable for remote work
16. The resident time-related under-employment rate increased from 3.1% in 2019 to 4.1% in 2020 but remained below the rate during the Global Financial Crisis in 2009 (4.3%). The increase was sharper in industries severely affected by COVID-19. As most of these industries employed more non-PMETs, and whose jobs are less suitable for remote work, non-PMETs experienced larger increases in time-related under-employment rate than PMETs.
Nearly half of workers worked from home due to COVID-19
17. Close to half (49%) or 1,094,900 employed residents worked from home due to COVID-19. Expectedly, a larger proportion of PMETs and clerical workers did so, compared to other groups of non-PMET workers, such as service & sales workers, craftsmen and cleaners, whose work typically needs to be done on-site or involve the use of machinery, vehicles or tools.
18. To support companies to sustain their business and accelerate transformation and restructuring, the Government has also provided substantial support through the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) and various enterprise development programmes. Under the expanded Productivity Solutions Grant for Job Redesign (PSG-JR), companies can also receive support for JR consultancy services that will help redesign work processes, tasks, duties and responsibilities so that more non-PMET job roles can be done remotely.
With re-opening, the labour market situation has improved since June 2020
19. The data from the CLFS showed the impact of COVID-19 on the labour market during the period when curbs on business activities and movement were at their peak. The labour market has improved since then, as the economy gradually re-opened.
20. Advance estimates released in the labour market advance release showed that resident employment rebounded strongly in 3Q 2020. This was supported by the pickup in employment growth in the Services sector, mainly in Community, Social & Personal Services (e.g. Healthcare, Public Administration) and Food & Beverage Services. In October 2020, the unemployment rate was unchanged at the overall level and for citizens, and inched up by 0.1%-point for residents compared to September 2020.
For More Information
21. The report is available online on the Ministry of Manpower’s Research and Statistics Department website at http://stats.mom.gov.sg/Pages/Home.aspx.
P Preliminary as the full year Consumer Price Index (CPI) data for 2020 is not available yet.