Correct misconceptions about unemployment

I applaud recent efforts taken by the Government to educate us about coming changes in the job market and the effects of unemployment (Economy picking up but jobs remain a concern: PM; May 1).

However, numerous misconceptions still persist about the topic.

For example, in a recent letter (More nuanced study of jobs data needed, by Ms Cheryl Chua; May 4), it was suggested that higher unemployment could be the result of stay-at-home mothers.

The definition of unemployment, as collected by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), is persons who are not working but are actively looking and available for work.

This means that stay-at-home mothers are not counted as unemployed, as they are unlikely to be actively looking for work.

The MOM also already provides numerous resources on its website for a more in-depth look at employment in Singapore, which very few people seem to be aware of.

Data such as graduate starting salary and discouraged workers are publicly available but almost never used.

Instead, people seem to have substituted these with their anecdotal experiences and created the wrong perception about the labour market, such as lower salaries.

I suggest that the MOM create a small booklet, containing key employment data in Singapore, such as an income by education breakdown, along with an explanation of what this data means, and distribute this to all households in Singapore.

This will allow us to get a better picture of the true state of the labour market and help squash any myths or misconceptions that pervade about it.

Myths about employment create a dangerous zone that populists and other troublemakers can exploit.

Zubin Jain

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 06, 2017, with the headline 'Correct misconceptions about unemployment'. Print Edition | Subscribe