Photo of graduates from HROnline

According to the latest employment statistics by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the unemployment rate for residents (citizens and permanent residents) under 30 years old hit a ten-year-high of 5.6%.

Just earlier in Feb 2018, Singapore’s self-proclaimed prestigious universities reported a 21.6% unemployment rate among fresh graduates. According to the latest Joint Graduate Employment survey conducted by NUS, NTU, SIT, SMU and SUTD, 21.6% of the graduates were unable to find a full time job in 2017. The figure is higher than the 20.1% than a year before in 2016. Despite being ranked among the best in Asia and the world, 10.6% of the 2017 cohort have to work freelance or part-time.

Unemployment for citizens remained at 3% and total employment stagnated at 0% growth.

The MOM however employ dubious calculation methods by removing the following groups from the definition of “job-seeker”:

1) Unemployed married women are classified as “housewives”
2) Unemployment elderly aged 65 and above are classified as “retirees”
3) Unemployed who is unable to find employment within 6 months are considered voluntary unemployment and classified as “long term unemployed”

State media are however ambivalent about the worsening employment situation in Singapore, and the 151st-ranking propaganda media reported optimistically to mislead readers. Below are the headlines of the few Singapore state media newspaper:

TodayOnline: Retrenchments fell to a five-year low, promising market for job seekers
Straits Times: Retrenchments at 5-year low, job vacancies on the rise
CNA: Retrenchments lowest in 5 years, resident unemployment rate declines

Job vacancies turned positive for the first time in 3 years with a ratio of 1.04 job vacancies to job seekers. The news instantly sparked the state media and business lobbyists’ greed, who called for the government to import more foreigners. A senior economist with Maybank called the 1.04 statistic as “high vacancy rate”:

“The high vacancy rates suggest that companies want to hire, but cannot find available manpower. Resident unemployment rate is already low.”

The report also revealed that Singaporeans, again for the 15th time, clocked the longest working hours in the world at 2329.6 hours per year (44.8 hours on average per week) – higher than every OECD nation. The closest “winner” is Mexico and South Korea, at 2,255 hours and 2,070 hours per year respectively.

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